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Greg Mandel Trio
Peter F. Hamilton
Tor Books (US & Canada), Pan Books (UK)
Volume 1 Mindstar Rising
Volume 2 A Quantum Murder
Volume 3 The Nano Flower

Peter F. Hamilton
Peter F. Hamilton was born in Rutland, UK in 1960. In addition to the three Greg Mandel novels, he is the author of the UK bestseller, The Reality Dysfunction, and the recently published The Neutronium Alchemist which form volumes 1 and 2 of Night's Dawn trilogy.

ISFDB Bibliography
Mark/Space: The Nano Flower
Peter F. Hamilton Tribute Page
Info on Peter F. Hamilton

Past Feature Reviews
A series review by Rodger Turner

In Mindstar Rising, we're introduced to Greg Mandel, a PSI-boosted ex-soldier turned private eye. He is wet-wired into the latest sensory equipment, carrying state-of-the-art weaponry. Greg's a vet of Gulf War II and mustered out of the English Army's Mindstar Battalion. But that is the past. Now, all he wants is to be left alone. He'd like to spend his days taking on cases that interest him and plotting a little revenge. He's tired of the politics, the savagery, the waste. But it is apparent that a man with his talents is in demand. Greg is a telepath, the talent he wishes often would go away. He's hired to safeguard Philip Evans, the ailing head of Event Horizon, a megaplex of technologies from gravity control to AI. As the megacorps battle for control of a revolutionary new power source with corporate greed outstripping national security, Greg Mandel finds out if he's up to it all.

Hamilton's dialogue is crystal sharp, his settings veer towards the convincing, his prose is slick. There is no sense of plodding plots yet it is apparent that he's done his homework researching the political and environmental challenges we'll face with the emergence of global warming.

Greg Mandel still wants to be left alone in A Quantum Murder. We find he's newly married to Eleanor, he's bought himself a farm with the proceeds of his last case and he wants to get his trees planted. When his friend, Julia Evans, asks him to investigate the suspicious death of one of her employees, Edward Kitchener, he's torn. Julia happens to be perhaps the richest, most powerful person on the planet and she paid him those proceeds. Now, Kitchener was a double Nobel Laureate researching quantum cosmology for Julia's Event Horizon conglomerate and an all-round hedonist. Greg has to figure out whether it was a crime of passion, industrial espionage or scholarly revenge. Thrown into the mix are the police who are not happy with the intervention of a citizen and the various gangs warring for turf after the rebellion which felled the UK government. Greg Mandel is a busy guy. For Kitchener's death happened at Launde where the security system was made up of first-rate gear. So a mercenary could have got through and plenty of people were anxious to stop his work. But then why would a pro waste their time in a ritual slaughter of their target?

Hamilton does a terrific job at handling a host of characters without them blurring together. His plotting is top-notch; I found myself deeply engrossed in the intricacies of near-holocaust politics, wondering whether the country can get back on its feet again. At the same time, I was pushed to try and figure out who might have committed this locked-room murder. Fans of this sort of mystery will enjoy the dropping of clues, the ambiguities of how such a murder can happen and the puzzles and false leads which would be the envy of any author. It left me writhing in anticipation of the third volume.

The Nano Flower is Hamilton's third Greg Mandel novel, set about fifteen years later. A strangely beautiful flower is delivered anonymously to Julia Evans, still head of the Event Horizon conglomerate. When Greg Mandel sees it he is stunned at the wave of psychic power that pours out from it. DNA analysis proves that it is alien and may be a message from an alien intelligence. Thrown into the mix is the disappearance of Julia's husband, Royan and a claim from rival companies to have acquired a technology impossibly superior to anything on Earth. Greg's job is hindered by a vicious mercenary killer out to kill him, a jaded merchant and his son, travelling the world on a ghostly airship, who hold the key to the technology, a ruthless arms dealer who will stop at nothing to corral the technology, and a seductive bio-equipped courtesan, chosen to deliver the flower.

Once again, Hamilton did it. He sucked me into this whirlwind of events and characters. His near future is credible, complex and compelling. Using the premise of global warming and its impact on folks' day-to-day life, the idea that a population will turn towards a semi-fascist state to fix things is likely. But it is just as likely for them to turn away and embrace megacorps, big business and the desire to bask in the wonders that new technology can foster. But none of this is done without cost. Whether it be the rise of corporate mercenaries to manage or manipulate security or do the "dirty little jobs" which need doing to get society back on track, we see threads of these tactics throughout this trio of books. But the humanity of people is just as strong. It is a society festooned with few sociopaths. It is rather more obvious that people are willing to work and struggle for the benefits work can bring. Mostly this is accomplished without the interruptions of government goofs who seem to like hindering progress. Hamilton has a remarkable talent for characters and their distinctiveness. Each one possesses their own voice and I found none of the usual fogginess of voices that mars many a title.

Copyright © 1997 by Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time." More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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