The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Near Enemy

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Near Enemy

A Hardcover Honey Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn 

Near Enemy – Adam Sternbergh

A year ago at this time, your Hardcover Honey was engrossed in Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready and this week, she finds herself equally enthralled by the follow-up novel, Near Enemy.  For those who didn’t read the first book, what are you waiting for? Check out my review HERE!  

Spademan’s back and sadder than ever. Despite defeating slimy televangelist TK Harrow, he is still working as a “garbageman,” taking out the dregs of society while living on the Jersey side and working in the burned-out shell of NYC. When a call one day brings him the name of his newest target, Lesser, Spademan is quickly on the job. Lesser is what’s known as a “hopper” – he lingers on the outskirts of other people’s sickest Limnosphere fantasies and watches, unseen as people indulge in all kinds of crazy shit. When Spademan happens upon Lesser, he finds Lesser emerging screaming from a particularly vivid fantasy gone wrong for one wealthy banker, a Mr. Langland. Mr. Langland’s particular fetish runs to female amputees. When Lesser is hopping in or Mr. Langland’s evening of amputee pleasure, he is stunned to see an invader, in the form of a woman in a black burqa who approaches Langland, brings out a curved blade, and peels him head to toe -  then reaches around him and blows them both up. Because dying in the Limnosphere is an impossibility, Spademan’s next move is to check on Langland’s body in the real world. Imagine his surprise when he finds Langland dead for real. At Langland’s house, Spademan meets a nurse leaving the scene, her job of tending him now over. Pay attention here, because Nurse (and yes, she is called Nurse throughout the book) is going to become a large part of Spademan’s story.

When Spademan is picked up by two unusual cops and delivered to Grand Central, he meets one Joseph Boonce, a top cop working for mayoral candidate Robert Bellarmine.  Bellarmine has a big speech approaching and nobody knows the topic – but speculation is that he will be announcing a security breach in the Limnosphere. Boonce asks Spademan to find Lesser – and to find a man named Salem Shaban, an associate of Lesser’s and an equally skilled hacker. Shaban is an activist, and Boonce fears he is leaning towards terrorist – if he and Lesser have found a way to kill people in the Limnosphere, the whole construct could collapse – and nobody wants that.  

So Spademan is on the case again – searching out Lesser, sussing out Shaban’s motives, and trying to protect his former target Persephone from a mysterious outfit called Pushbroom – all in a post-apocalyptic NYC that nobody seems very interested in saving. Inevitably, when Spademan does his digging, he hits roots – roots connecting Boonce to Pushbroom and to other unsavory types.  There is cinematic violence and tons of great Limnosphere scenes, like a twisted version of the Holodeck from Star Trek gone horribly wrong. In a world where anything can happen and where no rules apply, it is nothing to see, say, a man with a sword made of flames, thrusting and parrying away at a villain whose every inch of skin is flaming red, while a massive robotic hulk of metal skulks nearby and swings its arms menacingly. 

On the one hand, and much like Shovel Ready, Near Enemy is a straight-up detective story, with our hero cut from the same cloth of any number of good men in a bad world archetypes from books by Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker, Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, etc.  There is noir, there are crosses, double-crosses and twists.  All of which I love.  But Sternbergh’s staccato phrasing and colorful characters inhabit a world of their own, and with this book setting up nicely for a third in the series, I assume I will be spending next February deep in this world again.

Hardcover Honey verdict - 5 insane Limn fantasies out of 5 for this worthy successor to the first book – I can’t wait for the third!!