I Can Transform You
by Maurice Broaddus
Apex Books (2013)
Set in a world where corporations have taken over in the wake of failed governments, and where great pillars of earth have risen calamitously up to the heavens, a former member of a privately-owned police force involves himself in a murder case when he discovers one of the victims is his ex-wife.
Mac Peterson feels like an old-fashioned gumshoe set amid this dystopian dreamscape, at odds with nearly everyone around him and seemingly always within a hair's breadth of getting kicked off the case and eschewed into further disgrace. He aides Detective Aid Walter, a bionically enhanced flatfoot with little humor and even less tolerance for Mac's methods, the two make for a futuristic buddy cop duo--minus the buddy. I Can Transform You doesn't go for the pulpy feel, but does offer up some darkly tinged mystery, and the futuristic backdrop gives the kind of Blade Runner vibe that you're either going to love or hate.
I lean towards the former, since Broaddus deftly captures Peterson's grief and turmoil in the wake of his ex-wife's murder. The guy is determined to solve the case, but as he and Aid dig deeper into the case and the ramifications of where it leads, Peterson realizes justice and reconciliation will be harder than expected.
Getting an idea for the world in which Peterson lived was a little hard to grasp at times, visualizing the great spires of earth reaching into the sky felt so at odds with how the characters moved about sometimes. I just had trouble picturing how easy or difficult for a society it would be to maneuver within and around these obstructions, and just how pervasive they were on the planet. The characters by contrast felt so much more tangible that they came off the page with crystal clarity.
For fans of blending genres, I Can Transform You does a heckuva job bringing a murder mystery to a futuristic setting that feels reminiscent of older books and movies, yet completely original as a grand design. You yourself may not be transformed, but it's easy to see that Broaddus is getting better and better at this storytelling racket.