[Book Review] Peacemaker

Peacemaker / Marianne De Pierres (Powell's Books)
Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller.
When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter.
Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path…
Set in a potential near-future, Peacemaker delivers blending of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Western through the experiences of Virgin Jackson.  As an American, Australia brings to mind large cities separated by large stretches of land only occupied by small towns.  This is not the Australia that Virgin Jackson lives in, but is one that she would love, one with fewer people and where nature exists outside of a reserve.

It started out like a normal day for Virgin, and probably would have stayed that way had she not ducked back inside the park after closing to retrieve her dropped phone.  A chance encounter with intruders leaves her with a dead body, a missing person, and running late to pick up the investigator Nate Sixkiller from the airport.  Things just get more complicated for Virgin, who is not one to take anything lying down.  The lead investigator on the incident has it in for Virgin, people keep trying to kill her, the bounds of reality seem to be slipping, and Nate seems to know way more than he is willing to explain.

The technology is advanced but stays within the realms of what we could be building towards rather than relying on pure fantastic, and the story integrates elements of mythology and spirituality without dissolving into magic.  Virgin Jackson and Nate Sixkiller are strongly realized characters, with their own flaws and strengths.

The ending could be a bit too perfectly tied together, when the hidden players are revealed, or it could be considered a fantastic twist.  I recommend reading and making up your own mind.

Peacemaker is the first book in a series, and is also available as a digital comic.  See more and other titles at the author's website (http://www.mariannedepierres.com/).

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

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