Marianne De Pierres’ Peacemaker (2014) is a fast-paced thriller set in a futuristic urban western society that will have speculative fiction readers burning through the pages.
Set in the near future, where large sections of natural landscapes are preserved as parks, Virgin Jackson works as a ranger at Birrimin Park in northeast Australia. When Virgin witnesses a murder in the park, several attempts are made on her life. Since the American marshal, Six Killer, arrives about the same time, Virgin can’t help thinking he’s involved somehow. With the help of the creepy techie Totes and the resourceful reporter Caro, Virgin learns that outer city gangs are involved and it may even be related to her father’s death. Virgin has her work cut out for her with the police eager to arrest her for the murders, the reappearance of an imaginary animal from her troubled teens, and the mysterious Six Killer sticking to her like glue.
The pace of Peacemaker is blistering, leaving readers few moments of reprieve as the plot twists and turns with nearly every page turn. De Pierres crafts a complex plot and complex world, which she draws readers into with skill. Sadly, the prose itself, while good for the most part, is poorly edited, meaning obvious mistakes jar readers often, pulling them out of story’s otherwise frantic narrative as they try to make sense of them.
Virgin is an interesting character with a sordid past that is never fully revealed, probably to lure readers back to the trilogy’s following instalments. Virgin is a strong, capable woman who bears some similarities to Marvel’s Jessica Jones, sans superpowers. Other characters are interesting too, with Six Killer’s enigmatic nature, Totes’ doll collection, and Caro’s mysterious contacts all adding a sense of intrigue and spice to the narrative.
For readers seeking a fast-paced thriller, an intricate plot, and engaging characters in a unique urban western setting, you can’t go far wrong with Peacemaker. If it wasn’t for the glaring errors, it would rate much higher.
3 ½ stars