Time is your curse. Lack of time. Everything requires time, and you have so little. This leads me to the fundamental question the Electric Church poses: How can you be saved when you have no time?
Avery Cates is a very bad man. Some might call him a criminal. He might even be a killer - for the right price. But right now, Avery Cates is scared. He's up against the Monks - cyborgs with human brains, enhanced robotic bodies, and a small arsenal of advanced weaponry. Their mission is to convert anyone and everyone to the Electric Church. But there is just one snag: Conversion means death.
Meet Avery Cates: semi-savvy gunner in a near-future world going increasingly cyborg. Jeff Somers has been cranking out a new novel in the Avery Cates series every year since 2007, when The Electric Church was first published. This introductory volley, told with noir precision by long-time radio personality and professional narrator Todd McLaren, is a pretty solid start for an increasingly popular character.
In a world where the cops crush everything and starvation is always around the corner, Avery manages to survive by his slightly above average wits as an assassin in the criminal underbelly of lower Manhattan. After killing a cop, Avery is on the run from the swarm of police with better guns and intel than he can even dream of until the king worm of the police force offers him a long shot at wiping the slate clean. All Avery has to do is assassinate Dennis Squalor, leader of the Electric Church.
McLaren is stunning as the voice of a dozen creepy, proselytizing monks: people who have had their brains transplanted into robot bodies so they can pursue eternal salvation. These monks have the protection of the cops, and their church is converting people so rapidly that the whole world will be cyborgs under Squalor's control within a few short years. To get to the inner sanctum of this mysterious cult, Avery recruits a motley gang of criminals. These include a semi-psychic sidekick for muscle, Irish twin sisters who finish each other's sentences for transportation, a tech guru with a knack for disappearing, and a fellow assassin who was either trained by Avery's idol or might actually be Avery's idol himself. McLaren is in particularly good form negotiating the comic timing of the twin sisters' Irish brogue and the snappy comebacks of the second assassin.
There is plenty of action to move the story along, but also a good bit of interesting moral inquiry. Should the team kill an innocent reporter who stumbled onto their plan? How much free will do the monks have under Squalor's religious regime? And of course, that staple question of any speculative fiction endeavor: how did we let the world go so much to hell that it could end up looking like this? The book finishes with a 30-minute appendix containing an analysis of the bible of the Electric Church in all its contradictory glory. McLaren is in fine poetic form, delivering Squalor's lunatic raving with a sober hindsight that will give contemplative listeners something lingering to chew on as they head into the second book, The Digital Plague, involving Avery's effort to combat a nanotech zombie epidemic, also narrated by Todd McLaren and already available on Audible. Megan Volpert
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If you like antiheroes, it's a great read
Good Story....Bad Ending