a review by Nalini Haynes
Maximus Black is an 18 year old cadet in the interstellar peacekeeping agency known as RIM. He is a sociopath of high intelligence; his intelligence is how he circumvents the controls intended to prevent sociopaths pursuing this career path. In the beginning of Mole Hunt, Maximus has a personal ideal of only killing someone who presents a threat to himself even if he manufactures that threat to justify murder. This ideal rapidly shifts into a disregard for casualties, including killing bystanders and those who serve him. The latter are considered to be tying up loose ends.
Anneke Longshadow is the requisite counterpart to Maximus. Anneke has issues with authority, making her better suited to working alone although she aims to serve the greater good. With her striking good looks she stands out in a crowd. Being from a high gravity planet she is supposed to be lithe of figure with extraordinary musculature, giving her an advantage in fight and flight situations. Anneke is also a RIM agent, until Maximus frames her and pushes her outside the protection of the agency. As a strong female character, Anneke balances Maximus within the story framework.
Maximus Black is somewhat like Artemis Fowl, if Artemis started his career at 18, with advanced technology rather than magic, and was still a complete sociopath. Heavily influenced by The Stainless Steel Rat, Maximus is an Angeline-type character before her reprogramming and without Jim and the boys to focus her energies. Where Mole Hunt differs from Artemis Fowl and The Stainless Steel Rat is in its purely action focus; Mole Hunt is not intended to be a comedy and what humour there is, is dark. Suitable for teens and fans of Brent Weeks, Mole Hunt has numerous holes in the story that will probably not detract from the story for its target audience. Mole Hunt is particularly suitable for the reluctant reader in high school.
Originally published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011. This post has been pre-dated to reflect the original publication date.