Angel City Blues
Hard-boiled Detective - Urban Tech Noir
David Stalin - and what an unfortunate name is that? - is a private detective in future Los Angeles, circa 2063. This Los Angeles is definitely approaching Blade Runner/cyberpunk levels of dysfunction, with technologically-advanced, wealthy enclaves sitting near run-down, crime-ridden slums that technology has mostly left behind.
Stalin has been hired by uber-wealth Leanda Forsyth to find out what happened to her daughter. Forsyth's daughter was a novice reporter who went to her apartment one evening and simply disappeared. The police have gotten nowhere, and Forsyth has reached out to Stalin to take a fresh look at the evidence and follow it to wherever it leads.
Where the trail leads runs from slums where organ poachers hijack tourists to Japanese orbital colonies that attempt to recreate the ambience of Tokyo circa 1860. Along the way, Stalin is introduced to SCAPE technology, which permits experiences to be downloaded and replayed as a virtual reality for consumers. People being people, SCAPE technology is not limited to experiencing diving with dolphins, but is being used to support a blackmarket of porn, snuff, and crime chips to people with jaded, corrupt tastes.
Stalin follows the leads where they go, which is often through other people who are standing in the way, with threats, bullying, fists, and bullets where needed. Stalin is Dashiel Hammet's "Continental Op" updated for the late 21st century, with more backstory and artificial intelligences, including his house and the stored cyberpersonality of a former cop, to help him.
All in all, this is a satisfying detective/science fiction story. I thought the beginning was moving slowly, but about half-way in the story amped up and didn't look back. The pace of the story made me forgive the deus ex machina ending, which, actually, I found rather satisfying, for all that I know in retrospect that it is a deus ex machina ending.
Apparently, this is a sequel to a book written by author Jeff Edwards around twenty-five years ago. I assume that story has more of the Stalin backstory.
I am looking forward to more Stalin stories.