The text on the back cover says this is Heavy Metal Pulp, ‘a new line of novels combining noir fiction with fantastic art featuring the themes, story lines, and graphic styles of Heavy Metal magazine.’ This particular book, ‘Pleasure Model’, is the first in what may prove to be an excellent trilogy. The story’s principle characters are police detective Rook, a call girl dominatrix with a split personality and an illegal Pleasure Model called fittingly, Plesur. Pleasure Models are illegal gene grown humans designed to provide satisfaction to their owners. Most are female, although there are a few male specimens. In case you were wondering, this is an adult’s only book with large amounts of violence and sex.
Set in a future United States at around 2070 (it’s hard to be sure), it depicts a war-torn and ravaged society with government backed murder squads. Although there has been some fantastic technical developments, it seems bribery and corruption are the norm with most things available on the black market. The story starts with the dominatrix’s client getting killed by a hit squad while she is in the shower having given him a dammed good thrashing. Rook, our down-on-his-heels police detective, is assigned the case and it seems the dead client had been high up in the Special Forces. During his investigation at the murder scene, he discovered Plesur hiding in the basement and she may be his only witness. Unfortunately, Plesur is fresh out of the crate and has the IQ of a daffodil.
Although Rook becomes aware of the call-girl after reviewing the CCTV footage, both characters take very different paths through the story. Rook takes charge of Plesur as she (it?) is now evidence in a murder inquiry. It’s at this point that the body count starts to climb as somebody with a lot of military muscle and firepower wants Rook and, presumably, Plesur dead. What follows is an action-packed flight as Rook attempts to keep Plesur safe while investigating to see who is behind the killings and more importantly why. This is not an easy task when ambushes can be expected around every corner and so few people available to help.
There are lots to like in this book, from the grim setting to the many illustrations scattered through the text drawn by Justin Norman which add to the ambiance. The technical developments are plausible, as is the American society towards the end of this century. Although only 238 pages long, it doesn’t feel too short. Yes, there are many questions unanswered at the end of this book but that’s the inducement for getting the next two books in the trilogy. Even if you don’t get them, ‘Pleasure Model’ is a good read in its own right.
(pub: TOR/Forge. 238 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: $14.99 (US), $17.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2388-0)