Peter F. Hamilton’s ‘The Great North Road’: Sci Fi Investigation Fun


In Peter F. Hamilton’s The Great North Road, a technological breakthrough enables humanity to travel light-years in moments, unlocking the door to a future of distant space colonies, unlimited energy and prosperity beyond imagination. It’s an end to many of the world’s most pressing problems – a damaged environment, overpopulation – but not all of them: The ancient human evils of murder, greed and the lust for power continue unabated.

The North family created the technology that broke the light-speed barrier. They’re powerful, and thanks to the family’s choice to clone itself are unlikely to lose their grip on the future any time soon. A rich, ambitious family is bound to have enemies, both within and without. The original three clone “brothers” have gone their separate ways, and their offspring have become business rivals. Complicating things are the persistent genetic “errors” that plague the North clones; they’re not entirely identical anymore.

Now one of the North clones has been murdered, and the circumstances mirror the decade-old murder of another North clone, but this clone died on a planet light-years away. A woman convicted of the murder swore her innocence, claiming that an alien “monster” had done it. Now Detective Sidney Hurst has to solve a murder that will entangle him in the politics of the North family and could possibly uncover the existence of an alien predator on Earth. It’s going to be dangerous no matter what happens.

Longtime Hamilton readers will probably remember his Mandel Files novels, a series that revolved around the adventures of ex-military psychic turned investigator Greg Mandel. When I interviewed Hamilton some time back he said that he probably wouldn’t revisit Mandel. Sidney Hurst is no Greg Mandel, but it is nice to see Hamilton back in police procedural territory again. The years that have passed since the Mandel Files have seen Hamilton hone his already formidable skills to a razor edge. His revisit – even if in spirit only – to the sci fi detective story is worthy of celebration.