SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh

New York is a wasteland filled with crime and filth. As a former garbage man, Spademan figures it’s still a decent place to call home. Where he once picked up literal trash he now tracks down a more figurative kind of waste acting as a killer for hire. His latest job involves the daughter of a well-known religious leader. This man has made a living offering salvation to those who can afford it. His evangelism is built on the limnosphere, a new kind of industry spawned from the internet except this one allows the user to live in an artificial world and those who can afford it never have to exist in reality again. But what this man is offering isn’t all that godly or perfect as becomes evident when Spademan meets his target. Now Spademan and everyone he knows are caught in the crosshairs.

Adam Sternbergh’s debut is unique in that this post apocalyptic world is limited to New York. The rest of the world exists and continues almost as usual. Residents in New York and the surrounding area have stayed in this lawless disaster area out of choice—like Spademan—or limitation.

The limnosphere adds another interesting twist and a creepy piece of potential future. It’s not so far-fetched that this created world could exist one day and that folks will actually be able to plug in, leaving the real world behind. Of course this also adds yet another reality for criminals to rule, which is a big part of Shovel Ready.

Shovel Ready is quite dark and more than a bit disturbing—maybe even a little beyond what you’d expect in a story where the hero is a contract killer. It’s also the first in a new series so if you’re a fan of quirky crime fiction and anti heroes, that means there will be more to come.

3/14 Becky Lejeune

SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh. Crown (January 14, 2014). ISBN 978-0385348997. 256p.

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