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Heavy Metal Pulp: Pleasure Model: Netherworld Book One by Christopher Rowley
Cover Artist: Cover: Gregory Manchess; Interior: Justin Norman
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765323880
Date: 02 February 2010 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Once in awhile, the exception comes along: you CAN judge this book by its cover.

And that isn't a bad thing. Heavy Metal Pulp releases its first novel, Pleasure Model, and what a release it is.

A dominatrix deals out punishment to a sobbing, deeply devout man--only to escape death narrowly when gunmen burst in and murder him. The only other survivor of this attack is Plesur, a living sex toy. What complicates things is, Plesur knows something, and a monstrous conspiracy will be exposed unless she is killed too.

Enter police detective Rook Venner. Venner is working the homicide when he finds Plesur; it doesn't take long before Venner is in the killers' sights as well. Being a cop won't keep him safe here. There will be no loose ends.

With Plesur in tow, Venner has to go underground if he wants to survive. That leads him to a shady contact, Soozie Kong, who runs a first-rate whorehouse in Venner's jurisdiction. Soozie has friends she can call on, after they agree on one thing: they have to know whatever it is Plesur knows. So that means getting the dim-witted Pammy model an upgrade...

Venner and Plesur venture into some dangerous territory as they encounter New York's underworld of vice, where pleasure models like Plesur are used hard and used up in their ten-year lifespan. Fight clubs and vicious mistreatment seem to be the norm, until they simply drop dead. Venner's decision to upgrade Plesur is reinforced at experiencing the casual cruelty shown to these genetic constructs.

And then Plesur is reported dead when the clinic she's in is attacked. What can Venner do now? And why is he still in the killers' crosshairs? Perhaps an ex-president has some answers, if Venner can live long enough to ask him.

Author Christopher Rowley offers up a slam-bang cocktail of pulse-pumping adventure, hot and sensual liaisons, and death that comes out of the blue, all in a snappy cyberpunk wrapper. This really is pulp for the new millennium, with the dangerous-sexy style of Heavy Metal rising like steam off the page.

Venner is a terrific character, a cop who does the right thing because it is the right thing, even when protecting Plesur or pursuing this case means almost certain death. He makes tough choices but they're believable ones; he's a good guy in a really bad world.

Plesur herself is also an interesting character, with much more dimension than a "living sex toy" might be expected to have. She's an innocent, trapped by a very low IQ and a body built for sex, but she shows uncommon perception and a huge capacity for empathy--as well as some exciting surprises.

The supporting cast, including Soozie, Doctor Jim, ex-President Marion, Venner's assistant MacEar, and Nancy (a club owner with connections everywhere), is very strong as well, with personality and attitude to spare.

Their world--where the United States experienced an "Emergency" decades before and the government sanctioned murder squads to handle it--is a grim, dystopian place, perfectly suited for cyber-noir storytelling like this. It's as much a character as any of those who move and speak, with a mystery at its heart that will come out, one way or another. The truth is bubbling up and Venner is on its trail.

This is part one of a multi-novel storyline, so although there's resolution of sorts, this story is by no means over. Which is a great thing, really-- I'm looking forward to seeing part two already.

Recommended.

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