Carlucci, Richard Paul Russo (ACE Books, 2003)

Grade: Β — Really good book within the genre, probably worth reading regardless of which genre’s you like, but may have a style of writing or setting that may not appeal to all readers. Alternatively, it may not have deep commentary or thought outside of the book itself.

In brief:

A collection of three intertwined cyberpunk detective stories that manage to blend all aspects of both genres beautifully.  I highly recommend this novel if you enjoy either cyberpunk or gum-shoe detective stories. I’d also consider it worth your while if you like any form of either Science Fiction or Mystery


Near future, cyberpunk San Francisco.

In Depth:

A collection of three novellas that are brought together by a dark setting, strong characters and tertiary plot lines that develop across the arcs of the three stories.  Principal point-of-view characters change across each of the novellas, starting with the eponymous Lt. Frank Carlucci beginning as a secondary character in the first story, moving to being the principal point-of-view (POV) character in the second, then sharing POV with additional characters in the third.  Other characters also appear across the tales, but Carlucci remains the constant that ties them together.

To that end, he is the central character whose arc develops and changes as we move from one tale to the next. He is an honest cop who is dedicated to his family, a delightful  change in the post-Dirty Harry world where every cop has a dark gritty edge.  Don’t get me wrong, Carlucci has an edge and has real depth as a character, but he moves beyond the stereotype so common in modern (or futuristic) cop stories. 

But that’s not to say the book is without dirt or grit.  Russo’s future San Francisco has more than enough edge to satisfy any cyberpunk fan.  Corruption and foul play fill this story from beginning to end.  Where as many cyberpunk tales focus on the high tech glamour, Carlucci focuses solely on the dark underbelly of society.  It’s like a cyberpunk future written by James Elroy.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Science Fiction or Crime Fiction, and suspect others would enjoy it as well.

About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Crime Thriller, Cyberpunk, Identity, Mystery, Near Future fic, Post Modern, Ripping Yarn, Science Fiction, Strong Characters and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Carlucci, Richard Paul Russo (ACE Books, 2003)

  1. readysetpitch says:

    Thanks for this! I have never heard of this author and I’m always (always!) looking for another great writer.

    I’m a fan of mystery more than cyberpunk, but I’m looking forward to giving this book a whirl.

  2. Joachim Boaz says:

    Russo won a PKD award for his first book, right? I’ve heard of him — definitely — cyberpunk San Francisco seem a tad bit too William Gibson for me. Well, I enjoy some Gibson but…

  3. Joachim Boaz says:

    I was thinking of Russo’s Ship of Fools — which did win the PKD award….

    It looks quite interesting.

    • Thomas Evans says:

      It is a very good book, and one of the signs of his skills as a writer. It is nothing at all like Carlucci. Both are excellent, but he switches feel in his writing brilliantly.

  4. Joachim Boaz says:

    But then again, I’m obsessed with stories about Generation ships…

    • Thomas Evans says:

      I love ship stories of any kind… from Sailing Barks right up to star ships…. with a particular soft spot for good submarine stories. Unfortunately, those are few and far between.

  5. Joachim Boaz says:

    I have very fond memories of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series and Alexander Kent’s Bolitho when I was a kid…. I loved novels about Napoleonic Naval battles…

    • Thomas Evans says:

      I agree. I am also fond of Allen Villiar’s The Cruise of the Conrad, which narrates the true story of one journey of an old Whaling ship that can now be found permanently moored in Mystic Seaport. Great stuff that.

  6. Joachim Boaz says:

    I think Lord Cochrane is my favorite historical naval figure… The book Lord Cochrane by Christopher Lloyd is a great great great read… Lod Cochrane captured a 32 gun Spanish Frigate (319) with a 14 gun (VERY SMALL caliber) rickety sloop sort of ship with a 54 men compliment….

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