NEAR ENEMY – Adam Sternbergh

Near Enemy

Available now from Headline.

Source: Bookbridgr

‘Anyone who still lives in Manhattan and has anything of real value to protect does it with a shotgun, not a deadbolt. So the problem isn’t getting in, it’s getting out.’
When New York was hit by a dirty bomb, the city became a burnt-out shell and only the wealthy were able to escape, to a virtual reality quite different from the world around them. Former garbage man, Spademan, lost his wife and his livelihood – in a city comprised entirely of garbage, there’s little one man can do. So he became a hit man, clearing up in a whole new way.
But now the virtual world is under threat from elite terrorists operating from somewhere in New York and Spademan is tasked with tracking them down. He’s not used to having enemies – his foes usually end up dead pretty quickly – but he’s about to find out just how close they are, and how dangerous they can be…

Ok, so firstly, I’m a little late on the Sternbergh train,  I didn’t realise that this was a sequel but it works very well as a stand-alone.

So our hero, Spademan, is a hitman in a post-(almost)-apocalyptic New York; where real-life is one big suck, so most people ‘tap-in’ to the ‘limn’ – a kind of Matrix-like scenario where you can safely and limitlessly live out your dreams in virtual reality. Only, Spademan’s current target has uncovered a serious glitch in the limn, one that means it really isn’t as safe as everyone believes. Spademan is recruited – nay given an ultimatum – into investigating, and is set off on a dangerous path uncovering murder, terrorism, corruption, and conspiracy along the way.

The big award for this book goes to Sternbergh’s fantastic creation; Spademan. I LOVED this guy! His tough, no-nonsense narrative is very dry, witty and often absolutely hilarious. I’m still going through my Jack Bauer fan-girl phase, so the lovable tough guys really win me over. On page 1 of this book I knew it was a ‘nothing-else-is-getting-done-today’ kind of read. And I didn’t even care whether the story would be up to par or not – I could have ‘listened’ to Spademan all day. For instance;

So I pull out the lock-picking tools I keep hidden in my hair –


Heft a twelve-pound sledge from my duffel bag.

The prose is hard-hitting, no-nonsense, abrupt. It forces you to pay attention, and much like the characters, it doesn’t have time for niceties.

Luckily the story was also thoroughly enjoyable; with a good few twists, a bucket-load of intrigue, and non-stop action at every turn. And all characters were very cleverly created – you just don’t know which side anyone is on. I do think though that when you want to shock reader’s with a ‘who is the real bad guy’ plot twist, then you really need to get those characters to win the hearts of the readers completely in order to get that twist to pack an extra punch. As it turned out I couldn’t trust any of the characters, (apart from my beloved Spademan, obviously!) so a couple of these reveals got a ‘Ah. Ok. Cool.’ from me rather than an ‘Oh my bloody God. Wow!’ But I’m being fussy now.

Overall, this is an excellent read. Intriguing, action-packed, multiple twists… Oh, and did I mention I love Spademan?!

Many thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

Happy reading x

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