About Strictly Analog
Fans of William Gibson, Jonathan Letham, and Richard K. Morgan will enjoy Strictly Analog by Richard Levesque.
What’s a private detective to do in a future where nothing is private any more?
For Ted Lomax, the answer is to find clients who need their info kept off the grid, and that’s what Ted has done for years, skirting the high tech that runs the new California and living on the fringes of society. But when his daughter is accused of murdering her boyfriend–an agent in the Secret Police–Ted has to dig himself out of the hole he’s been in for years in order to save her.
Before long, he’s pulled into a shadow world of underground hackers, high-end programmers, and renegade gear-heads, all of whom seem to have a stake in California’s future. The further he digs into the case, the clearer it becomes that it’s about more than one dead agent. Solving it might save his daughter. And it might get him killed. And it just might open the door to secrets that reach back to the attack that almost killed him eighteen years before. At any rate, Ted Lomax will never be the same.
About the Author
Richard Levesque has spent most of his life in Southern California. For the last several years he has taught composition and literature, including science fiction, as part of the English Department at Fullerton College. He published his first novel, Take Back Tomorrow, in 2012 and followed it with Strictly Analog and the Ace Stubble series. When not writing or grading papers, he works on his collection of old science fiction pulps and spends time with his wife and daughter.
[Note: This review was originally published at Audiobook Reviewer.]
Richard Levesque presents a compelling science fiction detective thriller in Strictly Analog, which finds P.I. Ted Lomax on the hunt for answers after his daughter is accused of murdering her boyfriend, an agent for California’s secret police. Injured in the war for California’s independence, Lomax is unable to use the Google Glass-like eye-wear that has proliferated across LA and keeps people connected to the net. As such, he specializes in the rare breed of off-grid detective work, advertising himself as ‘strictly analog.’
Levesque presents a corporate-run California where the gap between social classes has increased even further and the rich trip on a drug that mimics synesthesia, and where everyone is constantly connected. Lomax’s investigation takes him far off his usual beaten path of working cheating spouse cases and into the underbelly of a high-tech conspiracy and the burgeoning technology of transhumanism. The technology on display gives this technothriller a near-future feel and you can easily see the stepping stones to Levesque’s cyberpunk noir world in the here and now, and in the wake of Citizens United a corporate run government seems more than a probable eventuality. The story is kept grounded and rightly focused on the people, with the skewed relations connecting Lomax, his daughter, the dead boyfriend, and Miles, the head of the secret police and one-time war ally with Lomax, is a twisted little construct. The ancillary characters, too, help to reinforce the high tech-driven world, playing off today’s own eBay resellers and augmented big data hackers, while also acting as terrific foils for Lomax and his research.
The story is told through Lomax’s first-person perspective, and the narration by Steven Jay Cohen is suitably world-weary. Lomax is a tired, cynical man and Cohen’s slow and steady performance is a solid match to Levesque’s words. I was initially turned off by Cohen’s somewhat flat, monotone delivery, but adjusted to it well enough and actually found it be surprisingly well suited to the story. Although the narration is on the flat side, it’s actually never boring thanks to the crisp prose and the turns the story takes, and the interest-factor of the technology at play. Cohen perks up occasionally when delivering dialogue, and I caught myself grinning a bit at the energy he brings to the character of Sonny, an on-the-run hardware developer. The production quality is crisp and clean, making Strictly Analog a smooth and easy listen.
Those looking for a fresh mystery story with a dash of science fiction would do well to check this one out, and Lomax has all the makings of a mid-21st Century Columbo. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Levesque brings him back sometime soon for a new case to solve.