Perhaps the best part of Chimera Catalyst is Susan Kuchinskas’s world building. The scope of the environment is pretty quickly summed up in the early pages of the book when we find the protagonist in a kind of genetic pawn shop where strands of DNA can be bought and sold. I kind of got a Repo Men vibe, only nowhere near so graphic… but the concept is intriguing—like Minecraft meets genetics. In the midst of all the advanced science and tech the world is very relatable and familiar as our hero searches for Miraluna Rose. In all honesty, it felt a little like futuristic Magnum PI in all the right ways as Finder embarks on a quest for the troubled girl, checking in with some contacts on the shady side of the law.
The story isn’t as raw and noir as the “Detective Miller” plot arc from the Expanse, but the book evoked similar themes of a future missing persons case in a relatable world of high technology and corporate greed. Perhaps unlike the Expanse and Repo Men there’s an internal dialogue that allows itself to dwell on humor for moments—even if it’s dark humor. That monologue helps keep the story from flinging itself into the darkness and keeps the tone from becoming dreary—it gives the narrative a kind of unique voice as well and does it without making light of an increasingly complicated case.
I’d recommend this book for readers who like Crime/detective stories and want to try something with a futuristic flair or want to add a dash of SF to their normal hard-boiled thrillers. While it’s not Minority Report or Bladerunner (Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,) this is certainly a 5 star book that deserves a place on the bookshelf near such iconic titles.
I did receive a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.