The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

Title: The Real Town Murders

Author: Adam Roberts

Publisher: Gollancz

Release Date: 24th August 2017

Source: Net Galley
Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying.

Alma's partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.

So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.

What follows is a fast-paced Hitchcockian thriller as Alma evades arrest, digs into the conspiracy, and tries to work out how on earth a dead body appeared in the boot of a freshly-made car in a fully-automated factory.

Set in our new future, The Real-Town Murders gives us a look at what the coming years might bring. Of course we have already seen what the far future of the internet looks like in Ready Player One but the feel of this book brings it closer.  An all immersive web called the Shine where people spends their lives plugged in wandering about oblivious to the real world.

The book starts with a murder, a body has been found in a car boot of a car that has just came of an assembly line.  Surely a worker is responsible, well no, the assembly line is fully automated and fully covered by CCTV.  There is no sign of how this body ended up in the boot, it truly is a mystery.

This is where Alma comes in, she is a private detective and she is charged with finding out exactly how the body ended up in such a strange place and to make it even stranger she can only do things in four hour intervals.

Her partner Marguerite is ill and she needs treatment every four hours to keep her alive, the only person who can administer the treatment is Alma.  

The story delves deep in to conspiracy territory as Alma digs in to the murder she discovers people who are out to trip her up.  People whose plans will take her away from her beloved Marguerite and her ability to help her.

It is a unique story, the Shine does heavily remind me of the OASIS in Ready Player One but the whole story is captivating and crazy paced as of course it revolves around instalments of 4 hours as Alma tries to evade the people out to trip up her case and keep her partner alive.

A great refreshing read in the sci-fi genre.

Thanks to Gollancz for providing me with a copy in exchange for a review.

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