Fast-paced futuristic thriller

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 August, 2004, 12:00am

Don't judge a book by its cover. The front of Neil Arksey's latest novel is a real mess, but inside you'll find a fast-paced and gripping thriller.

As Good as Dead in Downtown takes place in the dark world of the future, that unknown place where many authors choose to set their stories. The decaying city of Portobello is dominated by its all-powerful neighbour, Nebula. Tension is in the air from the beginning. Nebula is a hi-tech, efficient metropolis whilst Portobello, struggling to survive, has seen better days. Here are two places sliced apart by hate and enmity. The scene is set for conflict.

Kai lives in the claustrophobic, rundown streets of Portobello, hiding in the shadows and getting his work done with no questions asked. Young Kai has a particular and lethal talent that he has learned to use to his advantage. He is an extremely clever and deadly assassin, and his gifts are much in demand by Portobello's shadowy crime bosses. Kai cannot afford to have a conscience about what he does. He does his job efficiently with the sole purpose of earning money and keeping himself alive.

But Kai has a plan to get out of Portobello and leave his dangerous life behind. He knows there is a much better life for him somewhere far away. Before he can make his move he has one last job to complete and then he will be able to put this awful existence behind him.

News of Kai's lethal talents has spread far beyond the ramshackle walls of Portobello. He has been approached by the rulers of Nebula to take on a job for them. And it is an easy job that he could do with his eyes closed.

Kai has been asked to track down and eliminate two Nebulese youngsters, Phoenix and Phoebe, twins who have escaped from a genetic modification project run by Nebula scientists. In exchange, Kai will be given a new identity with full citizenship of Nebula. How can he possibly refuse such an offer? It is what he has been waiting for. But, as in all good thrillers, things do not turn out as planned.

As Good as Dead in Downtown is a breathtaking and audacious roller-coaster ride of a thriller. Arksey has written a futuristic tale that is real and plausible and reads as if it is happening today. Fantasy realism is a contradiction in terms and lots of writers come unstuck in this genre, but Arksey is skilled enough to build up his fictional world with careful detail and does not overlook the essentials needed for a good thriller. This is a stylish and classy fast-paced read.

As Good as Dead in Downtown

By Neil Arksey

Published by Puffin

ISBN 0 14 131052 9

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