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Ex-KOP    by Warren Hammond order for
by Warren Hammond
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Warren Hammond has done something unusual and intriguing in this series, that began with KOP and continues with Ex-KOP. It's a masterful mix of SF and noir mystery, starring the usual flawed anti-hero, Juno Mozambe, who seems to suffer constant bludgeoning while consuming vast quantities of cheap brandy. He does this in Lagarto, a slum planet where corruption is rife and life is cheap, working mainly in its capital city of Koba.

Juno, who started as an idealistic young policeman and evolved into being chief enforcer and right hand man to his police chief best friend Paul Chang, ended up as an aging vice cop with a shaking hand. In KOP, after being partnered with wealthy policewoman Maggie Orzo, Juno changed his world - just a little - for the better, but lost both Paul and his job in the process. Now 'the Koba Office of Police had gone to hell', Maggie is partnered with Ian Davies investigating horrific serial killings where the perp is probably an offworlder, and Juno 'found good work hiding in closets, peering through windows, exposing scandals when I could and creating scandals when there were none to expose.'

Juno is married to - and loves - Niki, who first used drugs to manage her own devils of childhood abuse and murder, and then made successive suicide attempts, the latest of which has left her on a respirator and requiring expensive medical rehabilitation. When Maggie calls on him to investigate the case of a teenager on death row for the murder of her parents, Juno takes it on. After being brutally warned off by Ian Davies and his cohorts, he works with Maggie, while pretending to report back to Davies. Gradually they expose secrets in Davies' past, as well as an organization offering sadistic sex tourism opportunities to offworlders.

When Maggie asks Juno to help her become chief of police and act as her enforcer and 'guardian devil', he agrees because she 'still had a heart' and might actually do some of the good that he and Paul Chang set out to do. I look forward to seeing where Warren Hammond takes his unique series next.

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