Haley, Guy -- Reality 36

He's a laconic German ex-military cyborg! He (other he)'s a hyperintelligent supercomputer with a penchant for trenchcoats! They fight crime! Also, virtual reality games are outlawed and the government controls artificial intelligence.

This is unabashed cyberpunk, with the two main characters covering both the "psychedelic matrix-hacking" and the "brutal enhanced-human fight" ends of the scene spectrum. Unfortunately I found the book rather too sloppily constructed. I didn't realize that those two characters were the protagonists, for a start -- the plot kicks off with a young whiz-kid running for her life (along with her AI phone! They fight crime! And also commit some). Then we see the titular "reality 36", but we don't know why it matters or who cares about it. The two eventual protagonists show up, but in separate scenes. These threads don't link up for a long time. I expect some mystification in a thriller plot, but I'd like to have some idea of what the stakes are or at least who I'm supposed to root for? Or the background history that set it up? Yeah.

I did in fact keep reading until all was explained. The action moves along (with body count standing in for coherence) and the author can turn a funny phrase when he's of a mind. However, I'm not reaching for the promised sequel.

(Added footnote: okay, I see the front cover says "A Richards and Klein investigation", which is a strong clue that they're the protagonists. What can I say. I bought this several weeks ago and didn't re-inspect the cover.)

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