I should start off by saying I’m a big fan of Peter F. Hamilton’s work; best to be honest up front and everything. I talked Graeme into letting me read the proof copy he was sent so I could read the book before its September release date. The price was this review. As I said; I’m a big
fan, I can remember picking up The Reality Dysfunction in W.H. Smith’s and being astounded at the giant brick of a book, to be honest I was always a little intimidated by the size. I finally took the plunge and ended up consuming the whole Night’s Dawn trilogy over the space of a month back in 1999 when I was stuck in a cast with a broken knee and nowhere to go. I’ve been a fan ever since. Hopefully this won’t colour my review. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton’s latest novel, Great North Road, is a stand-alone story and is unconnected to any of his earlier books, so can be read in the confidence that you won’t need to be signing on to a multi-book epic and you don’t need to have read his earlier work to jump on. For people who haven’t dipped into the worlds of PFH it’s a great book to start with.
The book is set in 2143 and has two main threads; the first is pretty much a police procedural and concerns the hunt for a killer; high ranking member of the important North family is found murdered in
. The death links to another North murder committed years early, the jailed perpetrator of which has always professed her innocence and maintained that “Aliens did it.” Newcastle
The second thread follows an expedition to a very strange, and little explored, colony world called St. Libra; the planet on which the original North murder was committed. The two plots are linked in various ways and by various characters which become more and more apparent as the story progresses and both the investigation and the expedition being to run into problems from within and without. The book also has flashbacks scattered throughout which reveal clues and character history that inform the current events as they unfold.
Character- wise the book has many interesting and engaging people; from weary Newcastle police officer Sid Hurst and his investigative team through to Angela Tramelo, who after her many years in prison is probably the most complex and layered of the protagonists in the book. The various members of the expedition and peripheral characters are all engaging and
manages to inject a decent amount of depth into even the smallest of background player. Hamilton has written more interesting characters in previous books but on the whole it’s a good ensemble cast who carry the story well. Hamilton
As is pretty much guaranteed with
, the book is huge, clocking in at nearly 1100 pages. He always give good value for money in a book and if I had one issue to bring up about this and PFH’s writing in general it’s that he tells big engrossing and all encompassing tales but he’s often let down by his endings. Not that Hamilton Great North Road has a bad ending; it’s just that the journey is so good and when it comes to an end it’s very difficult to do that journey justice. Great North Road has one of those 100 years later type epilogues and I found myself not wanting to see this but instead wanting to read and find out about the stories which may have occurred in those intervening years. I wanted the book to keep going. To keep telling me tales of these characters and worlds and that isn’t a bad thing, far form it, but alas, all good things must end. I wouldn’t however, not say no to a sequel to this book at some point.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, the book is a great read, full of interesting characters, great action wonderful tech and a very engaging central mystery and it rips along at a fair old pace. I heartily recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of space opera, future tech or anyone who just likes a damn good yarn.
Eight out of Ten