Robert Reed. Murder Born. (Asimovs February 2012)

22,000 words of tense, nerve-shredding tension from Reed that wrings the reader emotionally dry by the conclusion. It’s a dark, dark story, and the introduction mentions the lukewarm editorial response to an initial novel proposal around this subject, with a lot being requested to be taken out. Reed has kept that stuff in, and imho shouldn’t be pitching novels to those people again.

He looks at societal and individual response to murderers, focussing through an sfnal device that sees an unintended consequence of a new hi-tech method of capital punishment being the resurrection of those they they have killed. That could have been a fairly tricky thing to carry off in terms of suspension of belief, but Reed eases this into a story that has already had the tension racked up by a teenage girl having gone missing.

Reed’s photographer protagonist is handled well, as is his relationship with his ex-wife and her new partner. Reed inserts into the narrative descriptions of his photographs, and it slowly becomes obvious as to what they are. It’s a complex story, and doesn’t go for an obvious happy ending, and it’s one of Reed’s best for some time.

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