Bodyguard of Lies was first published in rougher form as a serial on Erin M. Hartshorn’s blog, but I prefer being able to read at my own pace so waited for the novel to come out.
It was worth the wait.
If I had to characterize the genre, I’d say Bodyguard of Lies is cyberpunk lite. The world definitely has its dark side, and the arena and corporate wars are visibly brutal, but you don’t spend a lot of time in the dregs, which is a good thing. The story is neither gray with lost hope and the passivity that provokes, nor is it red with brutal, indifferent violence. Despite the backdrop, the characters are distinct, motivated, and compelling.
Sabra, the main character, is driven, focused, and has her own sense of justice that infects those around her with the need to do more. It’s interesting to find that characteristic in a performance fighter, but her reasons are clear, and become more so as the story unfolds and we learn about her world.
Though she bonds with Mick, another main character, a little too quickly to my mind, that bond carries weight later in the story. He is the head of the corporate security team she’s hired (against her will) to support as a bodyguard to Leo, the corporate executive. Initially, he sees Leo’s decision as an insult, allowing for an interesting repartee between Sabra and Mick, with another guard giving voice to what Mick is holding back.
The story is told from many perspectives, both a strength and one of the reasons I feel, oddly enough, like we don’t have the full tale as of yet. One of the characters, Charly, needed more space for her story, one just as complex as Sabra’s or maybe even more. I’m hoping she gets some bandwidth in the next book because I’d like to know her better.
Which is how I felt about the world and its many characters as a whole.
The characters are generally complex while the world has many layers both in the society and in the troubles it is facing. This is clearly the beginning of a series, though while I don’t feel we get access to the full story, the direct conflict faced in the book is resolved in a tidy, warped, but plausible, way. I can’t say more without spoiling, but I will note there were a good number of mystery elements throughout the read, and if sometimes the solution felt a little too pat, none of them were implausible. Even better, the big ones were well seeded, some of which I only saw the threads for after the solution, but those threads were definitely present.
I enjoyed my time spent in Sabra’s world, and look forward to reading more about her. There are so many other things I wanted to mention, but as most tie into the mystery elements, I held back. Ultimately, it’s an interesting story in an interesting world peopled by interesting characters. Just the type of tale I enjoy, both because it makes the environment feel lush and because it allows me to sink in so I am rooting for the characters and suffering their struggles, to the point of having unreasonable faith that is sometimes rewarded in the most perfect of ways.
P.S. I was given this novel by the author in return for an honest review.