- Review: Bone Wires
- Series: —
- Author: Michael Shean
- No of Pages: 380
- Release Date: July 13th 2012 by Curiosity Quills Press
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In the wasteland of commercial culture that is future America, police are operated not by government but by private companies. In Seattle, that role is filled by Civil Protection, and Daniel Gray is a detective in Homicide Solutions. What used to be considered an important – even glamorous – department for public police is very different for the corporate species, and Gray finds himself stuck in a dead end job.
That is, until the Spine Thief arrives.
When a serial killer begins harvesting the spinal tissue of corporate employees all over the city, Detective Gray finds himself plunged into the first truly major case of his career. Caught in a dangerous mix of murder, betrayal and conflicting corporate interest, Gray will find himself not only matching wits with a diabolical murderer but grapple with his growing doubt toward his employers in the dawning months of the American tricentennial. A thrilling mystery set in the same world as the Wonderland Cycle, Bone Wires is a grim trip into the streets of the empty future.
The scene of the crime was an alleyway behind an abandoned Roziara Deli. Crowding the street outside the deli were a pair of patrol cars, white wedges of steel with ribbon lights that stained the nearby buildings red and blue. Street officers clustered around the mouth, black body armor over blue uniform fatigues; unlike the sidearms that Gray and Carter carried, the streeties carried the blunt, brutal shapes of submachine guns close to their plated chests. A cordon had been set up; the narrow yellow band of holographic tape that stretched across the alley mouth glowed as it cycled through baleful warning messages.
“They used to have good subs here,” said Carter as they pulled up in front of the moldering delicatessen. “Slabs of capicola as thick as Annie Cruz’s ass. Just incredible.”
“Don’t know that name,” said Gray.
“Porn star,” said Carter, who produced his badge and flashed it at a streeter who was approaching them. “Way before your time. Put on your war face, here comes the Pacifier.”
Carter’s Amber Shield glowed like the very words of God Almighty in the low light. “Carter and Gray,” said Carter, keeping his identification held up so that the streeter could see it. “Homicide Solutions.”
“Lem Martin,” replied the streeter. “Pacification Officer, patrol region 927.”
“This is your beat then,” said Gray, who produced from the inside pocket of his suit coat a slim Sony microcomp and engaged its holographic display. Data from the Nexus sprang to life above the palm-sized slab. “What do you have for us, Martin?”
Martin winced a bit at the lack of ‘Officer’ before his surname – you got a lot of that with Pacification Services, of which street patrol was the biggest group. They didn’t like being talked down to. Gray outranked him, however, and didn’t give a shit besides. “Nasty stuff,” Martin said, jerking his head toward the alley mouth. “Victim’s name is Anderson, Ronald P.. Administration. His panic implant was set off about an hour ago and flatlined soon after; me and my partner were in the area, and when we found him…well. Real horror show back there, is all I can say. I called for backup. Dunno what they used, but…well. You’ll see.”
Carter and Gray looked at each other – streeters saw all sorts of things. If they said it was a nasty scene, they’d probably do well to get smocks and rain boots. “All right, Officer,” Carter said, at which Martin seemed to relax a bit. “Were there any witnesses, security footage, anything like that?”
“Nothing we could find,” said Martin. “This area’s been abandoned for years. Anyone who lives here cleared out as soon as they heard us coming. You know how it is.”
“Yeah,” said Gray. Don’t want to get arrested for just being around. “All right, thanks, Officer. If you and…”
“Conklin and Peavey,” Martin replied. “In the other car. Patel’s with me.”
“…Right,” Carter replied with a nod. “If you fellas can keep up the cordon on either side of the alley, we’ll have a look. Call the coroner while you’re at it.”
“On it,” barked Martin, who stepped away from the alley mouth while touching the side of his throat where a subvocal mic, standard issue for street patrol, had been implanted. Carter waited until Martin had backed up a few steps and was well into conversation before he gestured for Gray to follow him. The two men passed through the holographic cordon, the barrier no more solid than the air around it, and took a few steps into the feebly-lit alleyway. The space behind the deli was dark and thick with shadows, lit only by the dying bulb of a lamp set over the shop’s sealed back door. A figure slumped or lay in the cone of dim light that spilled across the building’s crumbling facade. The air was faintly tinged with the smell of ozone and cooked meat. The two men approached; Gray held his computer in one hand while Carter fished the flat, card-sized shape of a palm lamp from a coat pocket. Cupping the lamp in his hand, Carter threw a beam of bright blue- white light across the alleyway and clearly illuminated the corpse.
Lean and muscular in life, that which had been Ronald Anderson half-crouched, half-sprawled across the alleyway, his handsome face pointing down toward the filthy concrete. The corpse’s posture reminded Gray of an old girlfriend; she was a yoga fanatic and used to do something similar called the Child’s Pose. Anderson’s formerly clean white dress shirt had been cut open, straight down the back from collar to waist, and his belted slacks had also been cut down to the base of the pelvis. His back had been tattooed with a medieval Japanese wave scene.
Anderson’s flesh had been laid open. Arching upward and away in a v-shaped furrow, a deep channel now butterflied the man’s back half from the base of his skull to the top of his pelvis. Where his spine should have been there was only a bloodless, grayish-red channel. The red and ivory of cleanly clipped bone and cooked organs were clearly visible in its absence, his heart a gray and veined lump. It was as if the tattooed sea had somehow come alive, restless and roaring, and attempted to rise away from its host who could never have survived its rebellion.
Without the slightest drop of blood, Ronald Anderson had been boned like a fish.
“Damn,” muttered Carter, stepping forward so he could track with his light the awful wound. “Never seen that before. What do you make of it, Dan?” For Gray, who had only experienced the more pedestrian horrors of stranglings, stabbings and gunshot wounds in his brief career, there was no clean reply. “That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” he breathed instead, staring down at the carved gutter. Gray had said ‘strangest’ – however, what he had truly wanted to say was ‘most horrible’. Looking down at the murdered man, Gray knew that his ‘sexy’ case had arrived, just as he had wished for it, but the only thing he could wish for now was to be anywhere else.
As if sensing the truth behind Gray’s words, Carter snorted softly. “Lucky you, kid,” he replied in a wry and vaguely weary tone. “Lucky you.”
Interview with Michael Shean!
-Did you have any growing pains with this novel?Well, Bone Wires was a serial, which meant I was forced to produce an installment every week without fail – that was pretty stressful. It forced me to push myself, and to do it while I was working on the sequel to Shadow of a Dead Star as well. I have to say that I might have burnt myself out a little, writing two books at once while working a very time-intensive full time job as well, but there you are. Lesson learned.
-How would you most like readers to respond to the novel?I’d like them to enjoy it, of course! The book’s meant to make readers ask a lot of questions, but that certainly isn’t required. I’d just be happy if they read it, enjoyed it, read more of my work and told their friends to do so as well.
-What are you reading right now? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would
name as influences? I’m not reading much of anything right now between my current novel and my dayjob, to say nothing of my marriage! As for influences, I’d name William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy, Henry Rollins, Marcus Aurelius – a motley crew, but there you are.
-What do you do when you’re not writing?Working? I’ve already mentioned the time my day job takes up, to say nothing of the commute. I spend entirely too little time with my wife, something I try to remedy daily (and I’d like to think I’m steadily improving upon). I can definitely understand why it is that writers have so many marital problems if they let things go out of hand.
-What is your next project? What have you been working on recently? My current novel, Redeye, is the sequel to my first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star – they comprise books one and two of the Wonderland Cycle, the trilogy which shares the same setting with Bone Wires. Once I’m done with that, I’ll wrap up the Cycle and then I’ve got about ten more projects laid out that need completing.
– What is your favorite word?Caress.
– What is your least favorite word?No.
– What turns you on?A small, curvy woman with red hair. Good thing I married her.
– What turns you off?Insincerity.
– What sound do you love?Husky laughter in the dark.
– What sound do you hate?Mockery.
– What is your favorite curse word?Fuck.
– What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?Writing? No, seriously. I always wanted to be a chef, honestly. Maybe in another life I end up cooking at La Tour D’Argent.
– What profession would you not like to do? Accountant.
– If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly
Well it’s about damned time. I’ve been keeping this beer cold forever.
Ohhh!! What more can a girl ask for? Blood and guts everywhere. The only thing that got me was that I’m not much of a mystery person but Michael keeps this plot going. I was asking questions and trying to figure out the plot and getting everything wrong! It was great!
This did remind me of a Dystopian although it is marked as Science Fiction. It was in the future and the way the private companies did things just reminded me that all hell can break loose. And sometimes does. The cops didn’t even have much that they could do.
Yes, it was a good old time for everyone, except here in Homicide. A hundred years ago the art of finding killers was the crown jewel for detectives wanting to make their name in any police organization. Here in the age of privatized police, however, Homicide was very often something of a proverbial dead end. After all, the kinds of people who normally got killed off were Blanks, folks who didn’t have police coverage at all, or everyday citizens who were covered under the standard civilian safety contract brokered between the Company and the city government.
People didn’t respect them like you would think. It was a really interesting set up and one I really enjoyed. And the names of these workers… For instance the main character Dan Gray was a part of Homicide Solutions. Every time I saw one of those names I just cracked up! But Michael adds in that flair, for instance Coke is called Coke Century. Genius! I’m sure Coke is going to want to copyright that. I never once questioned where or when they were. Phenomenal world creation!
So in the midst of these horrific murders where people’s spines are being stolen you have some very interesting characters. And you never get the feeling that you can truly trust any of them. It’s a fabulous mystery with lots of gory details added in, which of course, I just loved! That’s one of the reasons I picked this up, I’m not much of a mystery or science fiction fan but gore, hell yeah, bring it on! Bone Wires definitely didn’t fail my expectations!
About the author:
Michael Shean was born amongst the sleepy hills and coal mines of southern West Virginia in 1978. Taught to read by his parents at a very early age, he has had a great love of the written word since the very beginning of his life. Growing up, he was often plagued with feelings of isolation and loneliness; he began writing off and on to help deflect this, though these themes are often explored in his work as a consequence. At the age of 16, Michael began to experience a chain of vivid nightmares that has continued to this day; it is from these aberrant dreams that he draws inspiration.
In 2001 Michael left West Virginia to pursue a career in the tech industry, and he settled in the Washington, DC area as a web designer and graphic artist. As a result his writing was put aside and not revisited until five years later. In 2006 he met his current fiancee, who urged him to pick up his writing once more. Several years of work and experimentation yielded the core of what would become his first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star (2011). Michael is currently signed with Curiosity Quills Press, who has overtaken publication of Shadow of a Dead Star and the other books of his Wonderland Cycle.
Find the Author:
Website | Author Facebook | Bone Wires Facebook | Wattpad |
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[…] Bone Wires by Michael Shean (Book Review) […]
Fantastic interview and your review has me curious. The premise sounds interesting, and i like a good mystery. thanks for sharing!