Published: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 400 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon.
Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself—and his equally ambitious daughter—are the chief suspects.
Meanwhile, two-thousand kilometers away, an amnesiac android, Leonardo Black, rampages across the lunar surface. Programmed with only the notorious “Brass Code”—a compendium of corporate laws that would make Ayn Rand blush—Black has only one goal in mind: to find Purgatory and conquer it.
Visual, visceral, and tons of fun, The Dark Side fuses hard science with brutal crime and lunar adventure. It’s an intense, stylish, and action-packed thriller with a body count to match.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Dark Side when I requested it on NetGalley, aside from perhaps cookies. Once approved, I was disappointed to find that there weren’t any cookies included, but was delighted to find a brutal sci-fi noir murder mystery that happened to be set on the moon.
The moon is oft settled by humans in science fiction books, but rarely is it so filled with strife and criminals. One the dark side of the moon, there is a city called Purgatory… and its first inhabitants were criminals fleeing the justice systems of Earth, some of which were personally invited by the first criminal to flee outwards and upwards, Fletcher Brass. Purgatory is Babylonian in architecture, though there are some more gothic styles appearing and it’s hot, humid, and filled with the dregs of the society. The effects of the lessened gravity are varied and sound horrific- water displacement, stretched spines, weakened muscles, to name a few. Purgatory is somewhat touristy, but like some destinations you mustn’t wander too far from the bright lights and main streets or you might just have the worst vacation you could have imagined. The police force in Purgatory is lax as well, that is, until Lieutenant Justus appears and, depending on how you look at it, that’s where the story begins.
Justus was a police officer on Earth, until he was horribly scarred by a vengeful acid attack and he had to send his family into Witness Protection. He’s come to Purgatory and he plans to do his job thoroughly and right off he’s got quite the challenge. A bomb kills an important scientist and the investigation takes Justus to the highest echelon of society, where he meets some very interesting people. Fletcher Brass and his daughter, QT Brass are crafty, manipulative people who seem to be at odds with one another and that immediately raised my suspicions of them. Anthony O’Neill did a great job of guiding the reader into suspecting one person, and then flipping everything completely around so you suspect someone entirely different. I was uncertain until the very end, but once two pieces of the story began weaving together more tightly it was rather clear. The second piece of the story is the part where an android in a suit is murdering his way across the moon to reach Purgatory. That android has some curious philosophies and an unnerving amount of self awareness. Did I mention that the android was seriously creepy? Well, it was.
Anthony O’Neill proved to be masterful in his storytelling and world-building. He left me wanting more tales of murder on the moon and I would love to read more of Lieutenant Justus’s investigations. He was a tough but honorable guy and I was rooting for him the whole way through. The entire story really captured my attention and I didn’t want to put it down the entire time. I was practically sweating bullets during some particularly suspenseful points. I highly recommend you pick this up when it’s released on June 28!