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skinjob-bruce-mccabeReleased: June 2014

What started as a self published novel quickly found its home with one of London’s most prestigious literary agents and is now being published by Bantam Press.

Techno thriller Skinjob follows Daniel Madsen, an FBI agent trained to use hand held lie detector units and assigned to the ‘Dollhouse’ case. The Dollhouse is a brothel offering the sexual services of Skinjobs – life-like automatons. There are twelve people dead, including two police officers, and fears are mounting over an imminent second attack.

Pressure is heaped on Madsen to find who’s responsible and arrest them. The most obvious of the suspects are the New Christian Church of America, a fast growing religion that’s taking over the US. The further Madsen gets into the warped worlds of the Church and the Skinjobs, the more corruption and exploitation he finds himself exposing.

Skinjob is a cinematic reading experience, and with a time scale of six days it has fast paced chapters that beg you to read on. It’s by no means a mindless action thriller, as it tackles some big themes effectively. Bruce McCabe delves uncomfortably into issues that surround the sex industry and corporate religion. The ways in which both religion and the sex industry exploit people’s vulnerabilities for financial gain and then use said gain to manipulate political decisions is a depressingly eye opening plot point. The surveillance technology that the police use in the book is also not a million miles away from what is already available. Bruce discusses the pros and cons of this kind of technology and the moral ambiguity it can create.

Although this is a strong debut, it could do with another edit to get rid of some over-descriptive chaff that slows down the pace and feels needless. There are also a couple of clichéd characters that begin to grate after a while and feel unwelcome within the rest of the Skinjob world.

That said, this is an incredibly enjoyable and thought provoking read for any fans of dystopian literature and I look forward to McCabe’s second novel.

★★★★

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