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Near Enemy is the second book in the Spademan series by Adam Sternbergh and was published earlier this year. I reviewed his first book, Shovel Ready, last year and enjoyed it despite it not being my usual genre. So, when I saw the second one available on Blogging for Books, I was happy to request it.

This plot follows close on the heels of the first book. A year has passed, but not much has happened and little explanation is needed to catch the reader up to the present. Spademan once again is the storyteller, relaying the plot in his minimalist narrative style.
The setting is still post-dirty-bomb New York City which is falling into ever deeper corruption and chaos. Wealthy residents lie shuttered away in high-rises and spend their days plugged in to an artificial reality called the Limnosphere while other try to earn enough to buy a few hours here and there to escape the harsh reality.

During a job where Spademan is hired to kill a lowlife "bed-hopper" named Lesser (who also happens to be a genius programmer), Spademan learns that Lesser might have discovered a valuable, and deadly, secret about the Limn. He decides not to kill him until he learns more, but soon Lesser disappears. Spademan is coerced into tracking him down by a member of the police who seems to have his own agenda and doesn't balk at using threats and force to get his way.
The story follows Spademan's search for Lesser and the gradual revelations that follow about the limn, the city's leadership, and even the group behind the bombing of the city.

Sternbergh has done a fabulous job crafting Spademan's character--his dry humor and pseudo-poetic observations of the crumbling world around him lend a definite depth to his anti-hero character.

The world, though again, not perfectly fleshed out (does anyone really believe the NYC would be given up for dead by the rest of the world?), was still very vivid and easy to visualize. I imagine the world looking very much like the one in the Fallout PC games (which I wish someone would make into a movie)--drab, run down, with occasional patches of normality the further you get from the cities.

Near Enemy was more expertly written than Shovel Ready in subtle but noticeable ways. The pacing of the plot was very well done--particularly the transitions between action scenes. The symbolism, though not subtle (to match the book's unsubtle narrator), was still clever.

I do wish there was a more satisfying ending to this book. While some parts of the plot are resolved in the end, much more is hinted at. Of course, it's part of a series, but in my opinion Sternbergh did a better job in Shovel Ready of bringing the book's main plot to an end while still leaving it clear that there is more to come.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next.

For more info and to buy the book, visit the Random House website.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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