The Real-Town Murders
Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying.Alma's partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.What follows is a fast-paced Hitchcockian thriller as Alma evades arrest, digs into the conspiracy, and tries to work out how on earth a dead body appeared in the boot of a freshly-made car in a fully-automated factory.

The Real-Town Murders Details

TitleThe Real-Town Murders
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 24th, 2017
PublisherGollancz
ISBN-139781473221482
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Fiction

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The Real-Town Murders Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    This is a superb multi-genre, multilayered, crime noir set in a future Britain. It is a world in which people are addicted to and plugged into Shine, a post-internet offering a virtual online existence, in which reality just cannot compete. It is no surprise then that the outside world is falling apart, causing significant concern in the circles of power. Private detective Alma who has a preference for the offbeat, has a partner, Marguerite, who is critically ill as a result of gene hacking. Mar This is a superb multi-genre, multilayered, crime noir set in a future Britain. It is a world in which people are addicted to and plugged into Shine, a post-internet offering a virtual online existence, in which reality just cannot compete. It is no surprise then that the outside world is falling apart, causing significant concern in the circles of power. Private detective Alma who has a preference for the offbeat, has a partner, Marguerite, who is critically ill as a result of gene hacking. Marguerite is bed ridden, cannot leave home due to her size, and dependent on Alma for medical attention required every 4 hours. This puts Alma under inordinate pressure and stress as she needs to keep an eye on the time constantly to ensure she is back with Marguerite at the necessary times. This is a story that takes the established crime trope of the locked room syndrome, and then shifts in thrilling and unexpected directions.Alma finds herself called into an automated car factory utilising robots, where there is a dead body in a car boot. The victim is Adam Sten, but given the levels of surveillance and monitoring, rational logic dictates that this event is just not possible. It is not easy cracking the how and why of this curious mystery, and Alma is feeling the powerful pressure of forces that wish her to drop the case. Alma meets Michelangela, and she begins to understand that there is much more to this case than might first appear. Facing danger and situations that test her ability to care for Marguerite, Alma is determined in her search for the truth whilst encountering questions of identity, political intrigue, secrets, conspiracy, the integral role of social media, and the nature of power and government.Adam Roberts has written an exciting and intelligent novel with complex and detailed world building that I found impressive and fascinating. It is a fast paced story constructed with wit, humour, and great twists. Every character of note is a woman. I hope this is the beginning of a series, as I loved the character development of Alma, and her partner, Marguerite, who provides invaluable help on the case. I would highly recommend this brilliant book. Many thanks to Gollancz and Orion for an ARC.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely brilliant. Adam Roberts is a genius.A review: https://forwinternights.wordpress.com...
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    In crime novels one of the most common scenarios of the ‘whodunnit’ is ‘the locked-room mystery’ – that is where a crime (usually a murder) has been committed without any evidence for an entrance or an exit. It’s so common that Otto Penzler has created one of his huge anthologies on it.Adam Roberts’ future-noir story begins with an updated version of this trope – there’s a body been found in the boot (aka ‘a trunk’ in the US) of a car being assembled by robots – in a place continuously monitored In crime novels one of the most common scenarios of the ‘whodunnit’ is ‘the locked-room mystery’ – that is where a crime (usually a murder) has been committed without any evidence for an entrance or an exit. It’s so common that Otto Penzler has created one of his huge anthologies on it.Adam Roberts’ future-noir story begins with an updated version of this trope – there’s a body been found in the boot (aka ‘a trunk’ in the US) of a car being assembled by robots – in a place continuously monitored by three cameras in three different places and a an assembly point where no humans can normally access.It can’t be denied that Adam likes to set a challenge!Like many of his other books he plays with traditional tropes and gives them his own personal slant. Here he’s clearly channelling Dashiell Hammett and Alfred Hitchcock noir to create a detective story with a near-future angle. Think The Maltese Falcon meets Charles Stross.The style is tight, though not quite a la Sam Spade. In these more enlightened times of the 21st century Sam is now Alma, but her role as a protagonist is the same trope as ever. The new angle is where the story becomes a plot based on AI and political shenanigans (again, something that Charlie Stross fans will recognise.)The skill that Adam shows is that he manages to add new and unusual elements to what is a traditionally structured tale. This is a near-future England where we discover most of the population spent time in the Shine – a virtual online world. As a consequence of this the streets of England are often filled with robotic walkers that Shine-users use to exercise their sleeping bodies whilst in near-suspended animation. People are rarely seen out otherwise and direct face-to-face communication is declining. Alma’s need for direct interviews with witnesses and workers causes many of them concern and an inability to feel comfortable whilst doing so.In another complication Alma’s partner Marguerite is bedridden, someone who has been given the latest in malware, a virus that needs regular medication every four hours and four minutes – it is something that cannot be done too early or late and has to be administered by Alma. Alma feels guilty and obliged to maintain Marguerite’s health. Marguerite is also a valuable asset in Alma’s work as a private detective, a means of helping Alma work through problems to a solution.When Alma is met by Michelangela, allegedly a Government agent, she begins to realise that there may be more to this case than at first expected. The solution to the dead man, Adam Ken, in the trunk is very sf-nal, and leads to clandestine meetings with a mystery analyst amusingly referred to, in a nod to Watergate, as ‘Derp Throat’.When things take a Hitchcock-ian turn and Alma is seemingly arrested and transported for further questioning in Berlin. However Alma escapes, worried about what will happen to Marguerite. Whilst we read of Alma’s attempts to keep Marguerite safe, a situation that becomes increasingly more complicated every four hours, a bigger picture emerges, that there is a political coup going on that the victim and now Alma & Marguerite seem to be connected to.The conclusion of the book deals with how these situations are resolved.“This is about the whole balance of life: real life or the Shine. This is about the power bloc that has decided we need to encourage the ongoing migration of people into the Shine, because there we can surveil them and keep them bread-and-circused with perfect efficiency.”I’ll be the first to admit that some of Adam’s other books, and in particular their endings, have left me rather cold, if not baffled. He’s clearly a clever writer with things to say, but at times the grand ideas have left me rather perplexed, and often with an ending that dissatisfies. (I know, I know – not everything should wrap itself up neatly, etc.)Nevertheless I’m very pleased to say that The Real-Town Murders is, for me, the most enjoyable Roberts book since Jack Glass (2012). Like Jack Glass, The Real-Town Murders still has those big Adam Roberts ideas – as the quote above shows, this time about the nature of identity, the importance and relevance of social media and the means and manner of governance that may be clearly relevant in these post-Brexit UK times.“People with a grip on power can get pretty ruthless when they feel that grip slipping.”Where it wins most of all for me is that this intelligence is reined in to meld with a manageable and engaging plot. It may not be a coincidence that both books mentioned involve mystery-solving, whose structure gives the characters and concepts something to stick to without being generic. Whilst not all the twists and turns in the plot are entirely convincing, The Real-Town Murders is clever without becoming a victim of its own intelligence, which is why I think it mainly works.The Real-Town Murders is tight and not overly ambitious, and all the better for it.
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  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    Adam Roberts' books are definitely for those people who want extra layers in the stories they read. On the surface, The Real-Town Murders is a locked room mystery, albeit in a future setting, but it's also about how governments seek to control and manipulate their citizens. The future technology is written from the point of view of someone who clearly keeps up-to-date with technological advancements of now.Alma is called in to investigate a murder at a wholly automated car factory, where humans Adam Roberts' books are definitely for those people who want extra layers in the stories they read. On the surface, The Real-Town Murders is a locked room mystery, albeit in a future setting, but it's also about how governments seek to control and manipulate their citizens. The future technology is written from the point of view of someone who clearly keeps up-to-date with technological advancements of now.Alma is called in to investigate a murder at a wholly automated car factory, where humans aren't allowed on the shop floor, well not in person. The body was found inside a newly made car, with no evidence to how the killer got in or out.It's not an unusual thought to wonder how VR could transform our work lives. Imagine not having to commute, just logging in from home and interacting with your colleagues as if you were there. Think how liberating it would be not to be restrained by proximity to work when choosing where to live. This future does not have a housing crisis.It's taken a bit further than that, a lot of people now live in cupboards because they rarely leave the Shine. They get their exercise in mesh suits whilst their mind is elsewhere. Towns in the real world have re-branded in attempt to lure people back Real-Town was once Reading, Basingstoke is now BasingStoked! Even the White Cliffs of Dover have had a face lift.Of course, in this kind of world there's a lot to say about surveillance and data privacy. What exactly do you sacrifice in exchange for the life you have in the Shine? And what are the disadvantages if you're one of the few not connected?Alma is a carer, as well as a private investigator, one who has no chance to pass her duties on. Her partner Marguerite is living with genehacked malware, which requires treatment every four hours and four minutes. Alma's DNA has been coded into the cure so only she can administer it. As you can imagine, this is problematic when you're wanted by the authorities and it doesn't help that Marguerite is too large to leave their home. It really adds an element of urgency to the story.Women are not sidelined in this science fiction nor are they stereotypes. Alma is tough but she is also capable of crying, of caring deeply for the woman she loves despite hardship. It definitely passes the Bechdel test with most the key characters being women, even the baddies.Review copy provided by publisher.
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  • Ian Mond
    January 1, 1970
    Adam Roberts last year foreshadowed that his new novel would be less ambitious than his previous work, in particular The Thing Itself a brilliant book that didn't get the full recognition (and sales I'm guessing) that it deserved. But I think saying that The Real-Town Murders is less ambitious is selling it short. It may not be as thematically or philosophically rich as The Thing Itself or Bête or Jack Glass but it's still very smart, vey astute and has something to say about our interaction wit Adam Roberts last year foreshadowed that his new novel would be less ambitious than his previous work, in particular The Thing Itself a brilliant book that didn't get the full recognition (and sales I'm guessing) that it deserved. But I think saying that The Real-Town Murders is less ambitious is selling it short. It may not be as thematically or philosophically rich as The Thing Itself or Bête or Jack Glass but it's still very smart, vey astute and has something to say about our interaction with technology.The Real-Town Murders starts as a whodunnit - a magnificent twist on the locked room mystery - only to become a high-tech conspiracy thriller crammed with pulse pounding action and discussions on the impractical physics of teleportation. Actually, the book wins a gold star just for illustrating how displaced air makes Star Trek's most notable technology utterly implausible. The book is also interested in virtual reality, speculating that as the technology becomes more robust and lifelike people will spend more time in a world of their own devising than the real one. There's something eerie about the near empty streets of Roberts' Reading. Roberts explores the economic, social and power dynamics of a world taken over by VR and in particular how other technologies like AI develop when humans can't be bothered to do all the grunge work. For a book that has its main character catapulted from one near death experience to another it's astonishing how solid and frighteningly real Robert's future feels.Talking about our hero, Alma is a private investigator and like any good PI, straight out of the noir mould, she gets into places she shouldn't be and regularly finds herself facing the barrel of a gun. What distinguishes her from most conspiracy thriller heroes is her dry sense of humour and her selflessness. For plot related reasons that have nothing to do with the main story-line she's required to inject a uniquely tailored drug into her partner every four hours or her partner will die. Generally your average conspiracy plot propels the hero to a variety places, exotic countries, secret underground bases, the shady halls of Government. Alma doesn't have that luxury, if she goes anywhere outside a certain radius from home her partner will die. This is especially a headache when a number of Government agencies are out to get Alma and yet she is compelled to return back home because her partner cannot be moved. It's an endearing aspect to Alma's character - the fact that she will force a plane to crash just to make it back within the allotted time period - but Roberts also plays the drama and tension for all it's worth. So maybe The Real-Town Murders is not about the ethics of killing sentient animals or a radical take on Kant's Noumenon. But this is still a thoughtful science fiction novel, a thoughtful science fiction novel that moves at a clip, that features more than one big budget action set piece (climbing down Shakespeare's face. HA!) and has larger than life characters who, for the most part, all happen to be women. If this is Adam Roberts writing for the cheap seats than I'd like more please.
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  • David Harris
    January 1, 1970
    'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book via NetGalley - it's always good to be approved for an advance copy, but particularly here as I always look forward to a new book from Adam Roberts. And The Real Town Murders - which is both a science fiction and a crime story - didn't disappoint. It has that recognisably Robertsian tone - that is, serious in theme if slightly silly on the surface, packed with allusions so sly that you have to go back and check if you really read what 'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book via NetGalley - it's always good to be approved for an advance copy, but particularly here as I always look forward to a new book from Adam Roberts. And The Real Town Murders - which is both a science fiction and a crime story - didn't disappoint. It has that recognisably Robertsian tone - that is, serious in theme if slightly silly on the surface, packed with allusions so sly that you have to go back and check if you really read what you thought you did and glorying in puns and cheeky plays on words. So we have gems like "You're not the Mycroft. You're the Yourcroft"; phrases like "Man-hating transfer" or "gutter perches" shamelessly put into a character's mouth "for some reason" puns without the punning, pure puns with no object or reference.All that, and the book is also recklessly, relentlessly inventive and beautifully written. Really, really well written: in places the language almost sparkles and glitters (especially when it's describing sparkling and glittering things). For example: "Sunlight sparkled grey off the dust coating every one of the building's hundreds of windows" or "A solitary bot moved very slowly over the weedy concrete". There is a whole series of descriptions of sky and water that caught my fancy, both original ("The sky was a lake of unlit petrol", "Sky the colour of an old man's hair", "Textured like hammered pewter. Grey like the steel from which Excalibur was forged", "...the Thames, all of its surface teeming eels of pure light and pure brightness in the afternoon sun") and nods elsewhere ("light fizzing off ten thousand wave peaks like a screen tuned to a dead channel").The half quote from Neuromancer is particularly apposite because this book's background assumes a world where virtual reality is overtaking the real Real. The Shine is the place where all the fun is to be had, which is why Reading (or R!-Town as it's been renamed, in a lame marketing effort) is so empty (twelve people or so constitutes a crowd). Those who can, choose to spend their time indoors, dormant, plugged into the Shine: those who have no choice - prisoners, patients in hospital - are made to: it's easier to handle them that way.Horrible, perhaps, but not a dystopia, not exactly. There hasn't been an apocalyptic event, the world is still complete, it's just that several decades of consequences and technological evolution have taken us in a troubling direction. The outcome is that familiar streets - I've walked along some of the road Roberts describes - have become strange and eerie, beautiful at times in their emptiness, observed only by the few who can't or won't go where the fun is.The main character is one of these misfits. Alma is a private detective who at the start of the book has been retained to investigate a classic locked-room mystery - a murdered corpse in the boot of a new car, assembled before our eyes (or rather, before omnipresent CCTV) in a factory. A factory, which, incidentally, makes high end, "artisanally produced" cars - that is, they are lovingly assembled in the traditional manner by robots rather than merely being printed. That gives them a certain cachet in this world of the virtual Shine, of AIs, of empty streets and canteens - and a key role in the ideological struggle between the real and the virtual realms.Alma has no religious objection or medical reason for resisting the Shine, a fact she finds hard to explain to her prospective clients. Rather, she is bound to stay in the Real in order to tend to her beloved, her pearl Marguerite. Marguerite has been infected by a modded virus, which cases a crisis every four hours and four minutes. The malady is keyed to Alma's DNA so that only she can diagnose and treat it. Ridiculous as this premise may sound put so baldly, Roberts makes it work. In his it becomes a touching vulnerability for Alma, the successive needs to get out of whatever scrape she's in and return home really piling on the tension. It also adds an intriguing question which is never answered - how did this happen to Marguerite, and why? I very quickly lost any doubt about this setup, so well is Alma's need conveyed. And Marguerite is a wonderful character, the Mycroft to Alma's Holmes, as hinted in the quote above. She's a full part of this investigation and spots not only the immediate solution to the crime, but the wider dangers, long before Alma catches on.And there are dangers. In essence this book is one long chase. Alma is engaged for a case, warned off, threatened, contacted by a mysterious inside source, arrested, escapes, is pursued, shot at, and so on - for all the world like the hero of a Hitchcock film (and, in one mysterious scene, there is even an appearance by a mysterious fat man...) Even without the need to care for Marguerite, her chances of survival look small. But she's resourceful and won't give up so we have the setup for a classic action thriller. Yet if it's Adam Roberts does Alfred Hitchcock it could as easily be Adam Roberts does Julius Caesar (I think - given the politics, and some of the speeches) or several other genres (did the scenes with the argumentative lift AI echo Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Of course they did.)In other words, it's clever, well thought out, many layered, allusive and tricksy, something else I've come to expect from Roberts' books. With some authors that might seem a little show-offy, a bit look-at-me, but I never get that feeling from Roberts' books. If you get these references they add to the enjoyment, but understanding the book doesn't depend on getting them, and there's lots of fun to be had here anyway. The book ends with many open questions for both Alma and the reader, and I'm really hoping that Roberts will return to R!-town again, with some answers (and more questions).
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  • Kath
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book as part of my on-going attempt to diversify my reading. I usually stick to the same old genres but this year I have been dipping my toes into more sci-fi and fantasy and, as my go to genre is crime, a sci-fi crime book seemed an ideal book to continue my mission.We have here a traditional locked door mystery. A body is found in the book of a car made at a completely automated factory with cctv at every stage. There is absolutely no way that it could have been placed there. Alma I read this book as part of my on-going attempt to diversify my reading. I usually stick to the same old genres but this year I have been dipping my toes into more sci-fi and fantasy and, as my go to genre is crime, a sci-fi crime book seemed an ideal book to continue my mission.We have here a traditional locked door mystery. A body is found in the book of a car made at a completely automated factory with cctv at every stage. There is absolutely no way that it could have been placed there. Alma is called in to investigate. She is a private detective with a penchant for the strange. She has a partner who is desperately ill and requires medical attention which only Alma can perform every four hours so this means that Alma is always clock-watching and has to make sure she has the required time to get back to provide the requisite care. This is also the reason that she shies away from the Shrine, an alternative, virtual reality that people plug into. But as she starts to investigate, her contract is terminated, her involvement no longer required. She has another, almost as strange, case but she has bills to pay and also, her interest has been piqued by this apparently impossible case so she keeps on with it. It very soon transpires, however, that there are powers that would rather she drops it and they make their wishes blatantly obvious. Exactly what are they hiding? And who did put the body in the boot? Can Alma balance her commitment to her partner and get to the truth, and at what cost?Wow! This book was brilliant from start to finish. I absolutely loved the sci-fi element to the story although, as a newbie, I have little little experience of whether the things contained within are good or bad but, within my limitations, I could definitely buy into them. I did get a bit cocky early on when I thought I had it sorted but, I did think that if I was right that it was a little too easy so I wasn't completely convinced and was correct in that way of thinking. It didn't put me off though, not at all, as what happened next was a thrilling ride of paranoia, intrigue, secrets, lies, duplicity and all the other wonderful things you need for a great read of the crime genre all complemented with the added sci-fi elements.And when the truth eventually came out I was kicking myself a little as I didn't see that as a possible explanation although maybe, in hindsight, I should have.As this is set in England in the not too distant future there are certain elements of the country that have been upgraded, re-branded if you like, some of which were quite amusing especially the white cliffs of Dover! There are also a lot of past references to be had. Most of which required no explanation for me as I must be of the right age but their use at the most appropriate times did make me giggle on occasion. They also made my connection with the book as a whole much stronger which also helped my overall opinion of what I was reading.It's a book that can be read on many levels. There is quite a bit you can debate if you really go deep enough, all the usual things around data collection and the world we now live in with respect to what you can find on-line. But you also don't have to go that deep. The story itself is enough if you just want a good read. All in all, a cracking read for me which left me hungry for more of the same. I am definitely going to check out the author's back catalogue.My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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  • Brian Clegg
    January 1, 1970
    Of all the contemporary science fiction writers, Adam Roberts can most be relied on to deliver a book that combines an engaging story with extensions of current science and technology that really makes you think - and The Real-Town Murders does this perfectly.Set in the south east of England, a few decades in the future, this book delivers a trio of delights. The main character, Alma, is faced with constant time pressure as she faces physical and mental challenges (including a lovely homage to N Of all the contemporary science fiction writers, Adam Roberts can most be relied on to deliver a book that combines an engaging story with extensions of current science and technology that really makes you think - and The Real-Town Murders does this perfectly.Set in the south east of England, a few decades in the future, this book delivers a trio of delights. The main character, Alma, is faced with constant time pressure as she faces physical and mental challenges (including a lovely homage to North-by-Northwest), there is an apparently impossible locked room mystery and there is fascinating speculation about the impact three technologies - AI, nanotechnology and virtual reality - may have on human life and politics.Roberts' inventiveness comes through time after time - for example, Alma's partner is locked into a genetically engineered nightmare where she suffers a different medical emergency every four hours which only Alma can fix. It's just a shame, in a way, that Marguerite, the partner, hardly gets a chance to contribute as we are told she has Mycroft Holmes-like abilities. And then there's that locked room - or, rather, the locked boot of a car - where a corpse turns up in the boot at the end of a vehicle production line, despite the car being constantly viewable on video from several directions as it was built and it being clear that no one put the corpse in place.There's so much going on here, despite this being a short and very readable novel. Admittedly, there are a couple of points where there's an awful lot of talking in rather vague terms (other characters complain about this), but this is relatively painless and we're soon back with the action.My only real complaint is one that also applies to a scene in a much less sophisticated movie trilogy also dealing with AI and virtual reality - The Matrix. In The Real-Town Murders, towards the end, Alma realises that there is only one possible solution left to explain how the corpse ended up in the boot of the car - but there is another, arguably more likely, solution that simply gets overlooked. I won't say what it is, but Alma would surely have thought of it if she were familiar with the movie Inception.What's really impressive here is that Roberts manages to make this book both a page-turning adventure and an intelligent and thought-provoking exploration of the benefits and dangers of AI and virtual reality. It's also unusual in that every major character is female (a refreshing contrast to Foundation), though there are plenty of men around - again, part of Roberts' cleverness is that he can do this without trying to justify it in some way in the storyline.While not as intellectually meaty as The Thing Itself, this is one of Roberts' best books and a good introduction to his writing. If you aren't already a fan, but you like intelligent speculative fiction, read this and you soon be looking for more titles by Adam Roberts.
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  • S.J. Higbee
    January 1, 1970
    I was convinced initially that this was going to be the classic closed-room mystery – until the action suddenly kicked off, the plot jinked sideways and it all turned into something quite different… I love it when that happens! There are only a handful of writers that can pull off these flourishes with such panache, but Roberts happens to be one of them. The story surged forward, as the worldmaking redefined this thriller into something quite different.Alma is stuck in the real world, tethered b I was convinced initially that this was going to be the classic closed-room mystery – until the action suddenly kicked off, the plot jinked sideways and it all turned into something quite different… I love it when that happens! There are only a handful of writers that can pull off these flourishes with such panache, but Roberts happens to be one of them. The story surged forward, as the worldmaking redefined this thriller into something quite different.Alma is stuck in the real world, tethered by the specific needs of her lover who has been struck down by a genetically specific cancer attuned to Alma’s DNA, meaning that she is the only one who can successfully nurse and treat Marguerite. Alongside the case, Roberts rolls out this intriguing world where increasingly the majority of people live and work in the virtual paradise that is the Shine. So what happens to the increasingly lopsided power dynamic between the virtual governing body and the real-time government?Amidst the mayhem of full-on action scenes, there are some also genuinely amusing moments – I loved the faces of famous Britons that have been carved into the chalk cliffs of Dover to try and provide some belated attraction in the real world. Rebranding the town of Reading as R! also is funny and authentic as the kind of meaningless fluff the powers-that-be indulge in to be seen to do something about the increasing inequality between the real and virtual world.The initial murder throws up all sorts of issues and pitchforks Alma into the middle of a really scary adventure, which bring her to notice of some very dangerous people – although, worryingly, it seems she has already been on somebody’s list. She is an enjoyable, sympathetic heroine, though if I have a grizzle, it’s that the characters seem to be able to soak up an insane amount of physical damage and still stagger forth. However, that is a minor grumble – overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable near-future whodunit and I notice with joy in my heart that it is the first in a series. Yippee!While I obtained the arc of The Real-Town Murders from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.9/10
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  • Heather Duff
    January 1, 1970
    Set in our new future, The Real-Town Murders gives us a look at what the coming years might bring. Of course we have already seen what the far future of the internet looks like in Ready Player One but the feel of this book brings it closer. An all immersive web called the Shine where people spends their lives plugged in wandering about oblivious to the real world.The book starts with a murder, a body has been found in a car boot of a car that has just came of an assembly line. Surely a worker is Set in our new future, The Real-Town Murders gives us a look at what the coming years might bring. Of course we have already seen what the far future of the internet looks like in Ready Player One but the feel of this book brings it closer. An all immersive web called the Shine where people spends their lives plugged in wandering about oblivious to the real world.The book starts with a murder, a body has been found in a car boot of a car that has just came of an assembly line. Surely a worker is responsible, well no, the assembly line is fully automated and fully covered by CCTV. There is no sign of how this body ended up in the boot, it truly is a mystery.This is where Alma comes in, she is a private detective and she is charged with finding out exactly how the body ended up in such a strange place and to make it even stranger she can only do things in four hour intervals.Her partner Marguerite is ill and she needs treatment every four hours to keep her alive, the only person who can administer the treatment is Alma. The story delves deep in to conspiracy territory as Alma digs in to the murder she discovers people who are out to trip her up. People whose plans will take her away from her beloved Marguerite and her ability to help her.It is a unique story, the Shine does heavily remind me of the OASIS in Ready Player One but the whole story is captivating and crazy paced as of course it revolves around instalments of 4 hours as Alma tries to evade the people out to trip up her case and keep her partner alive.A great refreshing read in the sci-fi genre.Thanks to Gollancz for providing me with a copy in exchange for a review.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    The beginning of this book sucked me right in and the story kept me intrigued. Alma is a private detective in the "real" world whereas most people in her time are focused on a virtual world called the Shine. Some people never leave the Shine and employ mesh suits to keep their body moving while they live out dreams in a virtual world. Safe from bedsores and muscle wasting. Alma gets a case investigating how a dead body was found in the locked trunk of a newly manufactured car, when no humans are The beginning of this book sucked me right in and the story kept me intrigued. Alma is a private detective in the "real" world whereas most people in her time are focused on a virtual world called the Shine. Some people never leave the Shine and employ mesh suits to keep their body moving while they live out dreams in a virtual world. Safe from bedsores and muscle wasting. Alma gets a case investigating how a dead body was found in the locked trunk of a newly manufactured car, when no humans are involved in the manufacturing save for a checker who inspects the cars at the end of the assembly line. How did a dead body end up in this car? Alma is intrigued and her story goes downhill from there. Margeruite, Alma's partner, is stricken with a condition caused by gene hacking. Unfortunately she has to be tended to every four hours or she will die. The kicker is that only Alma can tend to Margeruite because her genes are part of this horrible condition. The condition links Alma and Margeruite for life. As Alma is thrown down a rabbit hole after deciding to investigate the locked trunk incident, she constantly must find her way back to Margeruite every four hours to keep her partner alive. Roberts used a little too much pop culture references for me, but overall I greatly enjoyed this story. Additionally this is a rare case of a book having a very satisfying ending. I worried a bit that the author would not be able to wrap up the story in a satisfying way but I was proved wrong. It would be great if this turned into a series about Alma's detective cases featuring Margeruite as her home based Watson.
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  • Lauren LaTulip
    January 1, 1970
    A sci-fi noir thriller, and a very quick read, I enjoyed Adam Robert's The Real-Town Murders. Robert's Glass Jack was a disturbing and excellent sci-fi novel I highly recommend to those with strong stomachs. Real-Town Murders is a lighter foray into the future, where most people spend their time in the Shine (online utopias) leaving their bodies behind and returning to them as rarely as possible. Alma is rooted to the Real-Town as she is the caregiver for her lover who requires daily aid or she A sci-fi noir thriller, and a very quick read, I enjoyed Adam Robert's The Real-Town Murders. Robert's Glass Jack was a disturbing and excellent sci-fi novel I highly recommend to those with strong stomachs. Real-Town Murders is a lighter foray into the future, where most people spend their time in the Shine (online utopias) leaving their bodies behind and returning to them as rarely as possible. Alma is rooted to the Real-Town as she is the caregiver for her lover who requires daily aid or she will die.Alma is first hired, then blackmailed into investigating a murder. It is a remarkably successful mundane plot point - Who among us would not be desperate to return to the side of a child or loved one who needed medical care than only we could provide? Alma carefully investigates, but odd events and shady characters carry her away. There are some very very funny bits about the setting in future England, where the Real World has tried and spectacularly failed to market itself to humans.Seriously though, I just read two good sci-fi noir mysteries with robots and detectives on daily deadlines (see Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher) and I have to ask if these two writers are in a secret writing club? If so, carry on!
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  • Tyler
    January 1, 1970
    The latest Adam Roberts novel, The Real-Town Murders, is an SF detective thriller set in the near future.A seemingly possible murder occurs in a car factory, and Alma, a private detective, is hired to investigate. She discovers a government cover-up and is on the run, but at the same time must attend to her sick partner every 4 hours or she'll die.Like many of his novels, this was very inventive; a future where most people live online (in The Shine) and wear mesh suits that walk them around the The latest Adam Roberts novel, The Real-Town Murders, is an SF detective thriller set in the near future.A seemingly possible murder occurs in a car factory, and Alma, a private detective, is hired to investigate. She discovers a government cover-up and is on the run, but at the same time must attend to her sick partner every 4 hours or she'll die.Like many of his novels, this was very inventive; a future where most people live online (in The Shine) and wear mesh suits that walk them around the block for exercise, towns are mostly empty outside, and humorous AI's run most daily life requirements.I was hooked well from the start, with the interesting murder setup, and Alma in her situation in this unusual world, though I found it flagged a bit in the last third or so - if it was like the start the whole way through would have rated it highly, but otherwise it was good (above average), but not up there with his best. I think also his usual unconventional and inventive ideas were present but reigned in a bit, which made for a tighter story but for me didn't hold the whole book. 3.5
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Netgalley provided me with a free copy to review, but this did not affect my review.I've read some of Adam Roberts' earlier books, but nothing for a while. This wasn't like those books. This was more near-future detective, than hard sci-fi book, but I liked it a lot. Some 1984, meets Sherlock Holmes, and with a bit of Jack Bauer-against-the-clock thrown in for good measure. It was an entertaining read, some interesting characters, a sprinkling of mystery and some twists and turns.The ending was Netgalley provided me with a free copy to review, but this did not affect my review.I've read some of Adam Roberts' earlier books, but nothing for a while. This wasn't like those books. This was more near-future detective, than hard sci-fi book, but I liked it a lot. Some 1984, meets Sherlock Holmes, and with a bit of Jack Bauer-against-the-clock thrown in for good measure. It was an entertaining read, some interesting characters, a sprinkling of mystery and some twists and turns.The ending was a little anticlimactic, but it's about the journey anyway, isn't it?
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  • Chrys
    January 1, 1970
    Some really interesting and imaginative ideas make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. The story starts with a "locked room" murder which had such an amazing reveal at the end. Some great word play, although I'm sure that some of it was over my head and a sense of humour throughout.This actually reminds me a lot of Jasper Fforde, which is a big compliment from me.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Strong writing apart from an excessive number of Deus ex machina rescues in second half. Interesting sf mystery full of nano bots, AIs, conspiracy, VR, and a locked car mystery.
  • Xavi
    January 1, 1970
    8/10https://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/20...
  • Andy Angel
    January 1, 1970
    I'll admit that this was a strange one. The early parts of the book hooked me in - our 'hero' Alma is set the task of solving an impossible murder when a body is found in the boot of a car in a fully automated car making factory. Add to this a near future setting where the majority of the population is constantly online, addicted to Shine (basically a full online existence) and you have a gripping tale to keep your brain busy.Alma has a problem though, her partner is I'll and has to be treated e I'll admit that this was a strange one. The early parts of the book hooked me in - our 'hero' Alma is set the task of solving an impossible murder when a body is found in the boot of a car in a fully automated car making factory. Add to this a near future setting where the majority of the population is constantly online, addicted to Shine (basically a full online existence) and you have a gripping tale to keep your brain busy.Alma has a problem though, her partner is I'll and has to be treated every 4hrs or she will die - and only Alma can administer the treatment. This is where things nearly came unstuck for me as it seemed every 4 hours Alma would administer the treatment then get in a 'scrape' that meant she would not be able to save her partner but, thanks to epic derring-do gets back by the skin of her teeth. I nearly gave up at this point but thankfully didn't as the second half of the book really cranked things up a gear and made for a thrilling end. The story felt both futuristic and black and white era cinema-ish with a strong Hitchcock vibe.Recommended
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