Rule 34 by Charles Stross


Today for you is not today for me, since I’m writing this well in advance of July 5, but this post is going live this morning because today is Book Day for Charles Stross’s Rule 34 (ignore that cover art). You know what’s awesome about being a novelist? Getting books way before everyone else does.

Rule 34 is a sequel to Halting State, a near-future crime novel about an investigation into a bank robbery that takes place inside an MMORPG that spills over into the real world in a big, ugly way. That was a good book. Rule 34 is a better one.

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is the only major returning character from the first book and, as a result of the investigation in the first book, she has been assigned to an internet watch squad, monitoring people to see if the pron they’re checking out is legal. When one of her old collars turns up dead in his home under suspicious (and extremely odd) circumstances, she gets drawn into another deeply strange mystery.

But what makes this book really work for me is the character of Anwar. He’s so funny and real, he honestly blew me away. The other characters, including the wary, self-aware detective and the American who isn’t… er… neurotypical, are terrific, but the book really comes alive when he’s the POV. I wish I had written him.

Highly Recommended.