There are many places -- even most places -- where "Alpha" is a fast-paced, taut, gripping, violently brutal novel that captures the eyes and imagination. And whenever the action is on-screen, that's the case.
Setting a thriller in an amusement park is not completely new (that I was just reading "Dream Park" brought that home to me), but Rucka makes the setting and the contrasts between manipulated cheer and gut-level violence work well.
The book is hampered in the end by being a little too cute and manipulative -- too many coincidences to artificially pump up the personal tension for both protagonist and antagonist, and a few too many cliches in the plotting and counterplotting that frame the novel, pull it back from perfection. But it's darned good nonetheless.
(Amusing side note: the book starts off in Skagway, Alaska, talking about the town and its tourist industry. I was one of those tourists on one of those cruise ships in Skagway just a week ago.)