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Saturday 6 December 2014

Market Forces, Richard Morgan

Review by Richard Saar

It’s coming up to Christmas, the biggest book receiving (and giving) period of the year for me, so in the month of December I enter into a kind of self-imposed book buying exile. All my friends and family have by now received a list of books I’d like, if they’re going to be kind enough to be buying books for me. However, I’m not going to stop reading, so I go back to my bookshelf and pick a few books to re-read before Christmas, ones that I remember enjoying, but can’t exactly remember what happened.

So the first book of my bookshelf tour is Richard Morgan’s Market Forces; set in London in the near future, 2049 to be exact, we meet Chris Faulkner, an up and coming junior executive who’s just recently been recruited by Shorn Associates.

Chris was head hunted by Shorn on the strength of his last promotion, but it wasn’t his results or profits earned that got him noticed, it was a particularly violent car duel where he killed a senior associate of his old firm.

You see in London in 2049 executives win jobs, promotions and contracts by fighting duels on the highways of London, quite often to the death and always televised live to adoring fans. Chris’s wife Carla is his mechanic, the one who keeps his car going after each duel, not that she’s a fan of his line of work.

Chris’s new job at Shorn Associates involves working in “Conflict Resolution” essentially betting on the outcomes of minor wars being waged around the world in exchange for lucrative government contract from the winners. Sometimes they bet on both sides.

Teamed with his new work colleague Mike, another ambitious junior executive, they have to fight off the competition to prop up an ageing South American dictator. Can he stay alive to win the contract, just who is he competing against and will the law eventually uncover what they really do for a living?

Having spent the last 20 or so years as a progressively more senior executive, the subject matter of this book seemed to resonate with me from the start. It really is a cut-throat world out there, but what if you really had to kill for a promotion, or new deal?

Morgan makes the choice much more subtle than that, Chris is gradually drawn deeper and deeper into the violent business practices of Shorn Associates where killing isn’t just done on the highway, but progresses into the boardroom. We see the toll it takes on Chris and his marriage to Carla as Chris realises just what he is doing and how dangerous the stakes really are.

The London that’s built up in Market Forces is quite vivid and disturbingly not too far from what we have today. There’s a clear distinction here that those with money can basically do whatever they like and those without are really screwed, the televised car duels akin to the Roman Gladiator games to keep the public satisfied. So whilst just below the surface there’s a statement about our world if we take current trends to their extreme, it’s a subtle message that doesn’t get in the way of a great story.

For me though the stand-out were the gripping car duels on the highway, you just want a few more and they really serve to heighten the tension as neither Chris Faulkner, nor the reader knows when the next deadly challenge will come.

It was well worth the re-read on my bookshelf tour, if you haven’t read this one search it out, if you have, time for a refresher!

Source: Bought from a real book store!

IBR Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: If you’ve read any of his previous books, this is best of his to this point, if you’ve never read him, start now.

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Item Reviewed: Market Forces, Richard Morgan Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Saar
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