|Harmonica & Gig is, to my
knowledge, R J Astrucs second published novel, and such a wide departure in style
and content from her first A Festival of Skeletons that
comparisons are of little worth.
Harmonica & Gig is one part
murder mystery, action thriller and another part cyber-space techno vision of a possible
future. The story concerns a competitively structured, privately financed investigation
into the death of a cyber-space (qverse in the book) developer, the interpersonal
relationships of the three investigators especially the eponymous Harmonica and Gig, and
the machinations of the three corporate owners of the qverse.
Although there are three investigators the action centres on Harmonica and Gig.
Harmonica is the qverse name of Regina Carter, a self-absorbed middle-aged woman, who has
a penchant for young men and a fine line in hypocritical double standards. Gig is the
qverse pseudonym of Felix McGuiggen, a twenty-something year old naïf. Neither of the two
central characters is truly likable: one because beyond her self-absorption she has a very
short temper and is liable to mood swings at the drop of a moments frustration; and
the other because he is a spineless, feckless individual who allows himself to be bullied
into doing all manner of things beyond his better judgment. Despite these limitations I
cared about the characters and what happened to them. In fact my hat is off to Ms Astruc
for writing a novel with such unlikable characters and yet making the story so that I
wanted these people to succeed.
This is a fast paced novel that moves with assurance between action in the real world
and the qverse. The book did not out stay its welcome and reached its ending neither too
soon nor too late. This is an author to watch and read.