Tag: Homicide

Isaac Asimov – The Robots of Dawn | Review

Title: The Robots of Dawn

Author: Isaac Asimov

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is one of the installments in Asimov’s Robot series, and so that makes it essentially a science fiction detective novel with a whole bunch of ethics thrown in. Asimov is probably most famous for creating the three laws of Robotics, which are the following:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

What’s fun about this book, like the other books that tie in with these laws, is that Asimov basically created them only so that he could bend and break them. We get some great examples of that here, including some suggestions of scenarios which could cause two of the laws to come into conflict with themselves and to cause a robot to overload.

Then we have the morality side of things. In fact, the whole case here revolves around the murder of a robot, and so there’s a lot of discussion around whether such a thing is even possible. After all, robots aren’t alive, right? There’s even some stuff on how while you can use roboticide and homicide, the word murder” doesn’t seem to quite apply.

Obviously I don’t want to go too much into the details of the plot, because the last thing that I want to do is to spoil it for people. What I will say is that it holds its own both as a science fiction novel and as a mystery novel, and indeed I think that Asimov is one of the underrated masters of the genre. I’ve read a mystery of his called A Whiff of Death which was set in our world on an American college campus, and that was fantastic.

Another piece of good news is that despite the fact that this is the third book in a series, you can still read it as a standalone if you want to. Sure, you’ll get a little more out of it if you follow the series through from start to finish, but it’s not a hard and fast rule and all that you miss out on is a little character development.

So all of this brings us on to the final big question of whether this is worth reading or not, and my answer to that would be 100% yes. Asimov is a fantastic writer no matter what he’s doing, and while there are other books of his that are a lot of fun, this is great too. Jeez, he always is.

Learn more about The Robots of Dawn.

 


Peter James – Dead Man’s Grip | Review

Title: Dead Man’s Grip

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 504

Rating: 4*/5

 

Peter James - Dead Man's Grip

Peter James – Dead Man’s Grip

 

I had mixed feelings on this one, which is kind of annoying because I had mixed feelings about the last Roy Grace book that I read. Bizarrely enough, because I read the books out of order, this book is the book before the last one that I read, but that’s my own fault and actually it didn’t make too much of a difference here.

The problem that I had with this book is that little things kept distracting me, such as the number of times that police briefings were interrupted by someone’s phone ringing. I counted that happening at least three times in this book alone and I know that it’s happened in others, and I don’t understand why people don’t have their phones on silent. It seems pretty unprofessional for a homicide team, but James does plenty of research and so I guess it’s normal.

Another problem that I had was that the blurb covered about two thirds of the book’s plot, so if you read that then you’re going to get a good idea of whether you’ll like it or not. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a crime novel that reveals this much on the book’s blurb, and I feel as though it took a lot of the tension away. When you’re 200 pages in and none of the three drivers involved in the collision has died, you find yourself wondering whether the entire book is just fleshing out the backstory. My friend Neil also jokes that every Peter James novel has some sort of road traffic collision, and this one is certainly no exception.

 

Peter James

Peter James

 

But there were plenty of good things about the book that helped it to earn a 4* rating, starting of course with just the quality of the writing. Peter James is a cracking writer and I’m slowly working my way through his back catalogue, and all of his books have something to recommend about them. Here, I quite liked the way that he worked with the New York mafia, and the way that he portrayed the leading players felt both human and genuine. There was a twist there that I saw coming a mile off, but I also thought it was pretty well executed and so it felt like when you watch an action movie knowing that the hero will come out on top in the end.

All in all though, there’s pretty much everything you need here, from Mafia hitmen to slow and painful deaths and mystery and intrigue. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s the best book in the series, but it’s still very much worth reading. It also has some decent scenes in and around Shoreham Harbour, and it does a pretty good job of capturing the vibes of both Brighton and New York. There’s nothing not to love here, so there’s no reason not to just crack on with the series. Enjoy!

 

Peter James - Not Dead Yet

Peter James – Not Dead Yet

 

Click here to buy Dead Man’s Grip.