What I’m Reading – Interference by Brad Parks

Hey Everyone!

I’m sure readers out there already know how Mysteries and Thrillers are a little bit like cousins.  Different, but sharing some DNA.  I tend to read (and write) more on the Thriller side of the family tree.  I don’t have anything against a well-crafted mystery, I just gravitate more to the action and structure of a Thriller.

All of that above is a key reason I found Interference by Brad Parks so interesting.  It was positioned as a thriller, and from the description seemed right up my alley, so I dove right in.  It is, in many ways, a thriller – but the story and structure lean more heavily into the Mystery side of things than I usually read, so I got a little bit of the “best of both worlds” while also getting a bit of a look under the hood at how mysteries work.

I really enjoyed the book for the most part.  I thought the plot was interesting with some cool science/tech elements that were well done.  At its heart though, is a story with some investigation, red herrings, and crime.  It’s heavier on the investigation and lighter on the action than what I usually associate with the genre, but there’s still the “immediate tension” feel the genre provides.

Structurally, what I found really interesting is how Brad Park handled perspectives.  It’s the first book in my own recent history that successfully mixes 1st and 3rd person perspectives.  The story has several POV characters, but interestingly, instead of sticking to 3rd person for the full cast, Brad Park selected one to present in 1st.  The transitions are handled well, it’s noticeable, but not jarring. As a writer, I find this kind of experimentation really interesting – and it’s great to see an example where it pays off.

As with any book, nothing is perfect.  I thought the ending – while satisfying – felt a little rushed, with one character making a turn I didn’t entirely feel they earned.  However, since I haven’t read as many mysteries as other thrillers, the ending pace may actually be on-target for that audience, so take the minor criticism (and it is minor – the ending does, absolutely, work) with a pretty sizable serving of salt.

Overall though, I really enjoyed the story.  If you’re a mystery fan looking for something a little more intense or a thriller fan looking to dip your toes in a more mystery-focused book, you’ll be well served by Inference.

This book was the first I had the pleasure of reading from Brad, but I will certainly be on the lookout for more titles from him.

What I’m Playing This Weekend

Hope you’re having a great weekend.  I know I am.  I’m tearing through the copy edits for Silicon Override, and working on something else special I hope to announce here in the near future.

Aside from that, when I’m shirking my actual work – I’m currently engrossed in a few games.  The one that’s got most of my attention now is Hades – a Roguelike(lite) from Supergiant games.

I love this game.  Like a lot.

Hades Title Screen
Hades Title Screen

I bought it several months back when it was still in early access after watching some streamers on Twitch playing it.  It was pretty amazing even then – though, Supergiant recently released the official version of the game, adding a few new elements (including the real ending, some new powers/abilities, etc…) and just generally filling things out.

They did not (wisely) mess with the already-great game play that had in place in the early access.  That’s still as fun as always.

The long and short of it is, you play Zagreus – son of Hades – and you’re looking to escape the Underworld.  There’s actually a lot more to the story (which I’ll get to in a moment) but I don’t want to spoil it.

Hades
Chilling In The Underworld

Anyway, being a rogue-like game, the core loop of the game is that you get as far as you can, collecting resources (like “Darkness”) to use to make you more powerful when you do the next run.  Hopefully, getting a little farther, until eventually you make it to the end.

The movement, combat, abilities, all of it is super tight and super fun.

Elysium
In Elysium Plotting My Escape

While I don’t want to spoil any of the story for potential players out there – As a writer (and a game developer) I do want to talk about the storytelling.  Supergiant took a brilliant approach here.  They used the format of the game (run out, die, come back, try again) as a mechanism of the story.  Each time you die and come back, you can talk to characters in the underworld to advance the overall plot and get to now (and impact) those characters themselves.  It’s a truly inspired direction, and I applaud their decision here – and on top of all that, the story itself, the characters, and the voice acting are all top-notch as well, so you actually enjoy and look forward to advancing the story.

Theseus
Gabbing It Up With My Pal Theseus (J/K – I Hate Him)

If you’re on the look out for something fun, that’s easy to pick up and put down (the game lets you save in the middle of a run) then Hades might be worth looking into.

Oh, and I don’t think I could sleep at night if I didn’t let everyone know that Cerberus the dog IS in the game…

Cerberus
Who’z A Good Boy?

But most importantly – to answer the question inevitably in your mind right now…

Yes, you can pet the dog.