Kop – Warren Hammond

Normally when I write a review, I tell you what I liked about the book, the characters and anything else that stood out for me. I Jot down a few notes when I finish the book, and I will pick it up again and flip through my favorite passages as I write the review. I didn’t do that this time because the truth is, I didn’t like this book.  I know how much effort and stress goes into writing a book, so I wasn’t going to post a review at all, but someone pointed out that I currently have no negative reviews up and I need to be fair about what I liked or didn’t about my reviews. With apologies in advance, here goes.

Kop is set on a planet that is roughly 10-year’s space travel away from Earth. The entire population of the planet lives in one of two cities, and the majority of them are refugees living in homeless tent camps because the original economy has collapsed. In this setting, a group of dirty cops is collaborating with the local mafia to have control of pretty much everything. The new mayor however has other ideas.

There are a few problems with world consistency here. While I can accept that travel from earth to this planet would take 10 years, the author has also set the same 10-year communication delay. Ok, except that the bad guys (or perhaps, worse guys in this case since there are no clearly defined “good” guys) don’t seem to have the same delay issues. They seem to come, go, and communicate as they please. there are also inconsistencies in the level of technology available – for example, there is a character who has electric implants in her skin (very advanced) and yet we are also told that even basic computers aren’t available.

Enter our main character, Juno, a crooked cop who is indistinguishable from a street thug, or any other mob enforcer. The problem  is that, while he is retiring from being a thug, it isn’t because of his hidden heart of gold, or anything else even vaguely noble. He has no tortured inner soul that longs to be free of this life of evil and thus redeem himself, and give us a something to sympathize with. He’s just getting old and worried he can’t keep up with the young guys who are beating him up now and spends a lot of time bemoaning the fact. When he isn’t extorting local barkeeps, he proves his manliness by pushing around and causing the death of, a disabled teen. Even in the flashbacks to his younger years, there isn’t anything likable about him. When his best friend decides to take over the city by being worse than the bad guys are, Juno hardly even stops to think before agreeing to go along with the plot. While character flaws make for interesting characters, Juno is so flawed he is indistinguishable from the villain, who in this case is the new mayor who wants to clean up the corrupt police department. It probably would have helped if we had seen something of the new mayor and the other supposed “bad guys”, but sadly we are only given a small glimpse that doesn’t really tell us why we are supposed to side with Juno. The only character growth  is when Juno decides to not cheat on his wife with his partner, Maggie who clearly isn’t even interested in him, and he realizes he is old enough to be her father. Yay, I think.

There is a lot of action in the story, but not all of it actually serves to further the plot. Some scenes feel like they are there more for the sake of adding words than anything else. At first, I attributed this to my own dislike of overly violent and gory scenes, but as a few more of them piled in, it seemed to me that the gore did little to further the plot and many of the scenes left me confused and disgusted rather than intrigued or informed. In the end, I cared so little about Juno and his crew that I didn’t finish the last two chapters of the book and forgot that I didn’t finish. My husband recapped for me a couple of weeks later. My husband did like the book, and the next one. He can tell you about Juno’s revenge for being knocked out of his position of power but honestly, I needed something more than a corrupt cop angry at being caught to keep my interest in this book and really wasn’t concerned enough to pick up the next one.