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  • Writer's pictureGavin Matthew

The District, Givens, & Cybernoir!



The Death Violation Trilogy

By

 

OVERVIEW OF A GOOD CYBERNOIR

            A decent noir has contemplation, emotion, character, and a rhythm. A decent cyberpunk story has technology and mythos that blends seamlessly into the narrative. The Death Violation Trilogy puts on a grand performance on how to merge the two. As a cybernoir, this series delivers the greatest pieces to both halves. Procedural and captivating, clinical and alluring, these novels are the kind of reads that sci-fi/detective fan should consume.

 

            Nicole Givens Kurtz displays her talents for a slow burner with just enough flavor on the page to keep the audience hungry for answers. In the Death Trilogy she weaves together a story that features the emotional rawness and fragility of being human with a teched-out future blinded by a false since of security. It is both simultaneously shiny, like chrome plating, and gritty, like city a subway. While the story is rich with ideas and concepts, the characters and the society they live in drive the narrative just like any other traditional noir.

 

            Another important element to this series is the well populated world that features people of color, gender diversity, and romantic preference in various places. It displays an inclusive future that, despite the grim violence of murder, is definitely worth noting. Briscoe's husband and Fawn's two contrasting love interests offer tender and human moments in a world of cybernetics and flying cars. The Death Violation series offers a vision of the future that many of us want to see in our science fiction literature.

 

BOOK 1:

            GLITCHES & STITCHES

"Violence happened every day in The District. Blood currency was popular.

That didn’t explain why Dr. Leonard Cho was beaten to death with his umbrella in the downtown sector.

Inspector Regulators Fawn Granger and Briscoe Baker have been through a lot of strange cases, and it has left Fawn sparks out. Suffering from PTSD, this worn inspector has one last case to finish before moving to the Southwest Territories, to a ranch, and to what she believes will be peace. What she and Briscoe discover is a scientist obsessed with cybernetics, an organization guilty of human rights violations, and a territory indifferent to the health and wellbeing of its citizens. Somebody knows something, especially when Fawn learns the list of covert undercover regulators has been stolen.

Who will speak up and speak out? Snitches get stitches, even those with glitches."


            In the first novel of the trilogy we are introduced to Inspector Regulator Fawn Granger and her partner Briscoe Baker. Fawn is an intriguing character with flaws that make her all the more interesting. Years on the beat investigating murders, which are now officially called death violations, has given her PTSD and anxiety. Fawn struggles with her mental health but is an adamant inspector who truly believes in finding justice for the deceased. It is her persistence that helps her push through psychological bouts that have put her at odds with her superiors and the rest of the regulator station.

            A recent death violation places Fawn and Briscoe on the trail of a conspiracy that could prove to be more than they can handle. Meanwhile, their partnership is one of close friendship that is strained by the fact that Fawn seeks to retire from the city scene. Briscoe is supportive but still clearly hurt by the decision.

            Glitches & Stitches delivers a great read that doesn’t get bogged down by a surplus of any element. It knows when to be calm and procedural, and it knows when to have a bit of action. It serves as an excellent opener to the series! I found the relationships to be well written. Fawn is somewhat a recluse but this doesn't keep her from having interactions with love interests. Interactions that do a great job of keeping the reader wanting more for our protagonist. The world is gets well established and the in-history of different concepts do a good job of not taking us away from present events. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book of this trilogy.


BOOK 2:

Immortal Protocol

"A string of dead bodies. No connection, other than they were all murdered.  Inspector Regulators Fawn Granger and Briscoe Baker chase The Fish, an elusive assailant.

He leaves death in his wake, as he disappears and reappears, taunting them. The Fish knows how to cover his tracks. Granger and Baker must find the killer before the body count grows higher."


The second novel brings us a slightly rejuvenated Fawn Granger who is on the hunt for a peculiar serial killer called The Fish. She is dogged and hungry in this book to the point that she could be described as obsessive. It offers a nice bit of tension between her and her loved ones. This book features intriguing ideas about virtual uplinks and cybernetics that is worth further exploration as it builds into a spiral of dark corners.

Of the three novels, this one did not hold up to the spice of the other two for me. Still, with that being said, there are some really nice gems in it. First and foremost, The Fish succeeds in being a dominating presence that is not to be toyed with. Their introduction in book was one of the most captivating parts of the story that leaves you wanting more. This may have done some damage to the story because after that pumping scene the procedural rhythm feels slower than necessary. The Fish gave Fawn a challenge that the reader was looking forward to seeing solved.

Immortal Protocol sparkles with the unraveling of Fawn's social/career life and the deadly presence of The Fish. Book 2 also delivers a good amount of world building that may or may not disengage the audience at times. While it was not as great a read as its predecessor and follow-up, Immortal Protocol would arguably be an excellent creation to watch on the big screen or as a streamed series.


BOOK 3:

A Butterfly Nexus

"Lucky Strange had a knack for ripping people off–his friends and lovers included. So, it wasn’t surprising when he disappeared for several months. Maybe he ran off to another territory. Maybe he was hiding from his debt collectors and furious former-friends. Or his wife.

When Lucky is found dead in the backyard of two women, the list of possible violators is longer than The District is wide. It’s up to Fawn and Briscoe to locate the death violator and send them to the Cradle. What unfolds is a ragged and ripped path into the hearts of people, and the lingering affects of trauma, love, and deceit.

A nexus so deadly and desperate, it will take all of Fawn and Briscoe’s cunning to catch him."


A Butterfly Nexus, the third novel in the Death Violation Trilogy, brings the most stable version of Fawn as she investigates the death of an infamous confidence man. She still struggles with her anxiety but she also manages to balance her bouts with the task at hand.

Playing into the "Who-Done-It?" style of detective narratives, we are handed a good list of possible suspects. All are captivating in their own way and Fawn is forced to reface just how volatile human beings can get when love is an element in the mix. This read is simply suspenseful! It keeps you engaged and delivers good portions of noir that escalates when more bodies show up on the page. There are red-herrings, crossed lovers, and heated passions a plenty that sends suspicion in all directions.

A Butterfly Nexus captures you through its players and not its protagonist. Fawn is still just as loveable as she has been and you are still kept on pens and needles for her love life, but ultimately it is the rogue's gallery of suspects and their lives that peck at your intrigue. The case moves quick and gives you very little, if any, room to be bored. It is a great read! The only place it wavers is in the fact that it is the third book. It feels like Fawn Granger's story is far from over and hopefully that is the case. Definitely need another Death Violation book!


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