a review by Steve Cameron
The Broken Ones are the dead who have risen. Not as zombies, but as ghosts. Everyone is haunted by someone, whether it’s a friend, a relative or someone completely unknown to them. And people can only see their ghost as they watch, silently. The world has fallen apart. Suicide figures have risen, as the world struggles to cope in the new world. Crime is out of control, and governments spiral out of control.
Detective Oscar Mariani runs a department that investigates murders and crime that may be caused by the ghosts, people claimed to have been urged by the spectres, or just driven mad from the hauntings. But how do you prove or disprove a crime was caused by the presence of something that no-one else can see?
Trying to make sense of his own ghost, running from his own guilt, bathed in apathy and working in a corrupt environment, he is finally jarred to life after attending the scene of a murder that bears all the markings of a ritualistic serial murder.
But are those in charge of him somehow involved, and will he stay alive long enough to solve the case?
Irwin’s second novel is set in a world rich in detail and apathy. It’s a unique take on a post-apocalyptic world and for the most part it works rather well. A cross-genre novel with elements of thriller, police procedural, horror and supernatural, it certainly has some spooky moments.
The writing is tight, the dialogue solid, and the characters well defined. Irwin hasn’t shied away from setting this in a clearly Australian world, although I suspect that wouldn’t be a hindrance to overseas readers, as the city could be anywhere in the world. Although Irwin is a Brisbane writer, I found myself using Melbourne as the template for the streets and suburbs.
Overall, a solid and engaging book from a writer that is sure to continue to impress.
Originally published in Dark Matter issue 6, November 2011. This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.