If you’re into reading an enjoyable story that brings together sci-fi and crime noir with a queer female lead, Addict by Matt Doyle is for you.
I’ve been looking forward to reading Addict since my interview with Matt Doyle. It’s the first book in the Cassie Tam Files series and I’m definitely excited for more.
Here’s the official synopsis for Addict!
New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …
For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.
When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.
Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.
This noir story is set in the future, however, don’t think Blade Runner. Cassie isn’t interested in modern conveniences and that leads to us not really getting to know about all the cool household gadgets that might exist in the world Matt Doyle has built. We do get Bert though, a pet robot gargoyle that protects Cassie and keeps an eye on the house. Bert also serves as welcome comic relief in the story.
Coming to the world itself, virtual reality is a big thing. People can be seen trading drugs needed to experience full virtual immersion. Matt Doyle also introduces suits of armor that allows people (Tech Shifters) to turn into mechanical animals or hybrids. There’s a lot of potential in the world the author has created and I hope to see it continue being fleshed out as the series continues.
Cassie’s story picks up when she’s visited by Lori Redwood. Lori’s brother was found dead and she claims he didn’t commit suicide even though a needle was found in his hand. Tagging along with Cassie as she tries to solve the mystery was fun. I also liked the flirtations going on between Cassie and Lori. Keep in mind that this isn’t a ‘coming out’ story. So, the queer aspect takes a backseat to what’s actually going on in Addict.
With the novel focusing on drug-use and virtual reality, of course, readers are going to relate everything to what’s going on in the real world. Virtual reality is becoming a huge thing in entertainment media (especially games). However, only time will reveal how much humans are willing to embrace it. Theoretically, people wanting to escape the real world and spend all their time in virtual realities, while their physical and mental health deteriorates (think Sword Art Online/SAO or “Imaginary Resources” from Adventure Time: Islands), is a possible outcome.
As a character, Cassie is likable. She has her vulnerabilities but always does her best to help her clients in a world where you can’t really trust the police. Also, I enjoy reading stories with leads who aren’t ‘goody-two-shoes’ and are willing to bend the law when necessary. This helps them come across as layered and not individuals who see everything in black or white.
With Addict being the first book in the series, I’m open to reading more of Cassie’s adventures!
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Category: Literary/Genre Fiction
Word Count: 56000*
Matt Doyle’s Addict is currently available for purchase.
Have you read Addict yet? What did you think of it? Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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