The Bloodstained Man (Netherworld 2) by Christopher Rowley [Book Review]

In the last book Pleasure Model Detective Rook Venner barely escaped with his life and now he and his beautiful companions Pleasur, a chiped-up pleasure model now intelligent killing machine and the human dominatrix Julia are on the run. This is my take on part two.

Title: The Bloodstained Man
Series: Netherworld book 2
Author: Christopher Rowley
Genre: Cyber Punk | Heavy Metal | Noir
Cover art: Gregory Manchess

Interior art: Justin Norman
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Tor books, Sept 5  (UK)
Copy: Bought it myself

Order from: Tor | Amazon US | UK | B&N

My Review of earlier Books: Pleasure Model

Next Book: Money Shot (November 9 2010)

Following the explosive events of book one, Detective Rook Venner, Mistress Julia, and Plesur are on the run from the government troops trying to kill them and from a shadowy group that wants to capture Plesur alive for its own purposes. What secrets have been implanted in Plesur’s head—and why are they worth killing for?

Caught between these two powerful rivals, the trio hides out in the lawless New Jersey territory. Betrayed by gang members looking to collect the bounty on Plesur’s head, the three are separated, and Rook and Mistress Julia find themselves in mortal danger. Julia, given as a prize to a gang member, finds herself in chains, but not without her own means of fighting back. Rook, forced to fight for his life in the gang’s bloodthirsty gladiatorial games, must stay alive long enough to rescue Plesur, but time is running out.

The Bloodstained Man is a fast-paced, adrenaline-filled ride through a future where pleasure has a price, and Plesur holds the key to a secret that could rock the country to its very core.

Information

The Bloodstained Man is a mix of cyberpunk heavy metal novel and gritty noir comic art. I liked the first book  very much so it was with some excitement I opened this one.

The inside illustrations made by Justin Norman (@deviantart page)  add another dimension to the text, especially in the action sequences they seems to speed up the action. I enjoyed the illustrations a lot; though there were a few more places in this book where they were out of sync with the story than in the first book. They add a movie feel to reading the book.

World Building

America is some kind of police state with general elections. The citizens don’t have much rights though and they are heavy segregated, the uninsured are left outside society to fetch for themselves in huge ghetto like areas ruled by gangs. Some of it you get in the dialog and descriptions but there is not much of it, it is not that kind of story.

They run into groups of runaway/free pleasure mods living in their own societies among the uninsured and there is a message about how we treat humans in that story, it also comes across in Rook’s friendship with a fighter mod while he is captured by the gang.

Plot

The protagonist Rook is on the run from at least two groups and they are both after Pleasur the fabricated human pleasure model Rook found in a murdered generals home in book one. One group is  the power behind the current government and they want her dead and the secrets she has. The other group is more mysterious and secretive and they want to use Pleusure and her information in some unknown way.

As in the last book there is more or less nonstop action, first they crash a party and get chased away by cool motorcycles and missile firing war drones. Out of the frying pan into the fire they run to the uninsured area and are captured by a gang whose main activity seems to be gladiator games and feeding the losers to the alligators. Rooke is forced to fight in the bloody games and Julia is given to one of the gang members as his personal slave and Pleasur is striped of her fighting and intelligence mods and locked up in wait for the bosses to come and get her.

I am not sure this book would go down well with most female readers, but the females in this story do take charge of their own destiny especially Julia.

The ending is a cliffhanger after a horrid moment that makes me want to have the concluding book now not in November.

Characterization

This is pulp fiction and you what you see is what you get. There is more to the characters than archetype though. There is nothing wrong with a few small randy and explicit scenes to spiff it up, it’s done all the time in chick-lit. But here there is something more fundamentally about being human going on inside and with the characters.

My View

The Bloodstained Man is a action-packed hardboiled detective story in a rundown world of pleasure models, government conspiracies and general lawlessness. It is a fast read I enjoyed very much. Both books in the Netherworld Trilogy are good summer reading. I can’t wait for the next book.

Extras

Rowley’s homepage www.christopherrowley.net contains a Netherworld Web Project with 28 slightly different chapters (the first book had 21). The texts are without the delightfully noir illustrations. There is also world building notes in the  ‘Need to Know‘ section.

You can find the cover of Money Shot in my Coming SF Book Almanac (August 2010)