Dark Heavens – Roger Levy (2003)
“Our planet is dying, literally falling apart. Our attempt to colonise Dirangesept, the one other habitable world we’ve found, have been bloody failures. All that’s left now is to wait for one last desperate effort to slaughter the beasts of Dirangesept. Or to Leave…
The Leavings. Consensual Mass Suicides. The last acts of those in search of salvation. Thousands of people at a time, promised heaven by a new crop of prophets. And delivered there with the connivance of the authorities.
Cy Auger works for CMS. It’s his job to ensure that the Leavings aren’t a cover for mass murder. With his wife in a virtual coma, new rifts opening in the ground every day and pollution threatening to kill everyone long before the planet tears apart, Cy might imagine that things couldn’t get much worse.
Until a series of deaths at the General Medical School open the door on a conspiracy that cuts to the core of whatever remaining hope the world has. And forces Cy to face again the day his wife was lost to him.”
Blurb from the 2004 Gollancz paperback edition
Levy’s noir future thriller is fast paced and in the style of (though not as stylish as ) Richard Morgan.
Cy Auger works for CMS, a kind of Watchdog organisation monitoring and licensing those who organise Consensual Mass Suicides, attempting to ensure that the suicides are, in fact, fully consensual.
When Auger (everyone calls him Auger) becomes interested in two identical solo ‘suicides’ the powers-that-be and even his own colleagues, appear not too keen for him to get involved. And so unravels an intricate conspiracy involving CMS, clandestine genetic engineers and VR designers and high levels of government.
Auger is your classic noir detective. He has enemies within his own department, an attitude problem and a maverick idealistic streak. His wife is brain-damaged, having been blown-up on the day of their wedding and constantly reliving the last five minutes before the accident.
His friends and acquaintances keep getting killed as well, which doesn’t encourage him to become close to anyone.
However, despite being cliché-ridden, it is a very competent cyberpunk thriller with fascinating central premise.