THE PLUTONIUM BLONDE  (NUCLEAR BOMBSHELL #1)

Author: Dan Simmons

DAW / 342 pages / September 2001

ISBN: 1931081549

There must be a million stories in the twenty-first century, but they’re really all the same: sad sack gets dame, loses dame, gets mixed up with a dame that’s nothing but trouble, then gets in dutch with that dame’s android double. I know; you’ve heard it ‘til you can’t stands no more. Well, you’re going to listen again, ‘cause this story different. Really, it is. Just gimme a minute to explain.

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Zachary Nixon Johnson isn’t just any guy; he’s the last remaining licensed private investigator on Earth in 2057. And he’s good. He’s real good. He’s got toys that would make James Bond drool. Plus, he’s got the world’s smartest computer living right in his brain. This computer’s name is HARV, just so you know. They’re a lethal combination that can whip anything you can throw at them.

Unfortunately, the perpetrator they’re after this time is going to be the one doing the throwing, and Zach might be one of the missiles launched. Because they’re on the trail of a beautiful, but deadly, android stronger, faster, and much smarter than even the world’s favourite PI. And this just might be the last episode in that reality-based series.

And that’s if everyone’s playing straight with them, but you just know they aren’t. It’s that kind of case.

Yeah, The Plutonium Blonde saw its first incarnation as a web-based serial. Did you really expect it to stop there? No one who got two paragraphs into this dark, droll, downright irresistible hard-boiled-dick novel could ever bear to put it down until the last heart pounding moment. Zach is off and running on his toughest case yet, and there is no way he is leaving us behind, no matter what the danger.

How could anyone pass up the chance to get better acquainted with this intelligent, witty, self-effacing investigator with a heart of pure 24K? Or HARV, his super-intelligent, wiseass, strictly loyal computer, whose jokes push the envelope of patience without ever losing their humour? You’ll definitely want to meet B.B. Star — versions 1 and 2. In fact, there isn’t a character in this novel that doesn’t add something unique and essential to the tale. Believe you me, you’ve never come across leg-breakers with so much personality or executives who could do with so much less.

The dialogue is fast-paced, witty, and shrewd. Zach Johnson doesn’t “dumb it down” for anybody — a few mentally-challenged goons aside. This is futuristic pulp for the thinking reader, the one who enjoys a good chuckle, some mental exercise, and the occasional inside joke.

Sit down with The Plutonium Blonde and a cold one and just see when you manage to pull your peepers away from the page again. On second thought, Zakour and Ganem are too damn good to be interrupted for something trivial; skip the cold one and save yourself a trip to the can.