Saturday, 3 March 2012

Area 10 GN

This book, part of the Vertigo Crime series of OGNs, is something I picked up on a whim.  I saw an ad for it in the back of the latest volume of Scalped, thought it looked quite interesting, and then noticed a copy going cheap on eBay, so I placed a bid and won it for £1.99 (plus £2.10 for postage), which wasn’t bad at all, considering the RRP is £10.99 / $12.99.

The story is about a New York detective called Adam Kamen, who survives getting stabbed in the forehead with a screwdriver while hunting a serial killer nick-named ‘Henry the Eighth’, because he decapitates his victims.  When he gets out of hospital, Kamen discovers that his perception of time has been altered, and he can see brief glimpses of possible futures.  This leads us into a whole load of stuff about trepanning – the practice / pseudoscience of drilling holes into people’s heads to relieve pressure on the brain and/or increase awareness.  In Area 10, most people who survive trepanation have the ability to predict the near future, and towards the end of the book, one character drills a hole into his own head to give himself an advantage during a fight!

If you can get your head around the sci-fi twist – the idea that trepanning allows people to see into the future – this is actually a decent read, although, for the most part, it’s a fairly typical detective drama.  Kamen has an ex-wife, a dead kid (I’m not sure if this part of the story was ever satisfactorily explained), falls for his sexy psychiatrist, and may or may not be Henry the Eighth himself.  Writer Christos Gage has written for film and TV and it shows, as this reads a lot like a three or four star thriller, the sort of thing you might enjoy watching on DVD on a Sunday afternoon but you’re glad you never went to see it at the cinema, you’d probably never want to watch it again, and you’d never declare it a classic, perhaps because some elements seemed over-familiar, and perhaps because it contained one twist too many.  It is, however, beautifully illustrated by Chris Samnee, whose black and white art is both simple and photo-realistic at the same time - he's like a modern version of David Lloyd.  Based on the story alone, I doubt I’d want to hang on to this – I liked it just fine, I just didn’t think the story was a keeper – but I will probably hang on to it for a while, as I might want to flick through it and look at the pretty pictures again.

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