Dave's Reviews > KOP Killer

KOP Killer by Warren Hammond
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Jul 20, 2012

really liked it

In the morally murky world of crime fiction police work can be like scuba diving. That’s because some cops commit or allow certain crimes in order to stop others. When this practice begins it can be hard to tell the difference between right and wrong. So the cop is like a scuba diver who’s been under the water too long and doesn’t know which direction the surface lies. These types of police detectives are crime fiction staples. You’ve seen them in cop shows like “The Shield” and the novels of James Ellroy. Juno Mozambe, the protagonist of Warren Hammond’s Kop series of future noir novels is just such a detective, but you’ve never seen anyone like him because Juno walks a different beat in a different time; the city of Koba on the impoverished and decadent jungle planet, Lagarto, in the 28th century.

Readers first met Juno in Hammond’s 2007 debut novel “Kop,” which also introduced his partner, honest cop Maggie Orzo. In 2008 Juno and Maggie reteamed for “Ex-Kop” another tale that found him tackling a heinous crime on his home world, but this time without the protection of a badge. The two previous novels are fascinating blends of hardboiled crime noir, and sci-fi dystopia, but Hammond’s latest Juno Mozambe novel, “Kop Killer” is perhaps his grittiest and most fascinating thriller yet.

You don’t have to have read Hammond’s other two novels to enjoy and understand “Kop Killer,” but I recommend them and if you do it adds to the tension and emotional pay offs of the book. In the first few pages you’re reintroduced to Juno and his new status quo. He’s still without a badge, but now he’s a man with a mission; helping his former partner take control of the corrupt Koba Office of Police. Unfortunately for Maggie, Juno has taken it upon himself to finance her campaign and help her establish a power base. His means of doing so, a unit of corrupt cops that he’s black mailed into helping him take control of a protection racket.

Complicating matters further is the fact that a corrupt and powerful police captain Emil Mota controls the protection racket Juno has his eyes on and he’s not willing to let it go without a vicious and bloody fight. Juno of course is up for a fight, but by fighting back he stumbles upon an insidious serial killer and a number of dark, gruesome, and horrific secrets. So before he knows it Juno and his allies are caught up in a morally murky turf battle and murder investigation and the only way to survive is to kill a whole lot of people and make sure you don’t get caught.

If you’ve read Hammond’s other “Kop” novels you know what to expect, and the writer doesn’t disappoint with “Kop Killer.” In fact it’s darker and more brutal than his other novels. There were scenes that made me squirm. If you haven’t read Hammond’s other books prepare yourself for a story that reads like James Ellroy on another planet. The crime story elements all ring true and Lagarto feels like a fully fleshed out real world.  Plus the sci-fi elements of the story compliment the crime elements and make them feel even more powerful. It’s a nice cocktail of a story.

“Kop Killer” features an interesting and eclectic cast of characters that include awoman  that serves as an enforcer at a local brothel, the one seemingly honest cop in Juno’s gang, and a serial killer with a fascination for a unique and dangerous reptile. The real star of the show though is Juno himself.  He’s our narrator and in this book he’s a haunted and broken man trying to find something to make his life meaningful. It’s a fascinating struggle and a pretty noble one. I hesitate to call Juno heroic. He’d probably beat the crap out of anyone who called him that, but he is a fascinating man trying to do right in an extremely corrupt and violent world.

The climax of “Kop Killer” ties things up in a powerful and satisfying way so that if it is truly the end to Hammond’s exploration of the mean streets of Koba and Lagarto I’m fine, but if the writer decides he wants to come back to the world he created in the “Kop Trilogy” I’d love to see more. So If you’re looking for a powerful, gripping, and dark vision of crime on a possible future world I highly recommend “Kop Killer” and all of Warren Hammond’s Kop novels.
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