In 2039, when people die owing money, the government turns them into mindless servants. Shades. These undead workers toil until their debts are settled. Without complaint, they pave roads, till fields, and build moon settlements for the wealthy. Jonah Adams struggles to balance his life in this grim world. To prevent his dying mother from becoming a shade, he joins the IRS as a ghoul, an agent that collects recently deceased debtors. The pay is good, but the cost is high. His girlfriend, Vanessa, a bankruptcy lawyer protecting the rights of the poor, despises his line of work. To set things right, he just needs to complete a few more missions. With luck, he can settle all scores and maybe have enough to buy two tickets to the lunar colony. However, nothing comes easy for Jonah, especially when others come to reap what he has sown.
This impressive debut deftly incorporates near-future technology into a suspense plot. In the year 2039, the dead are pressed into service as “shades”—zombie slave laborers working off their unpaid debts. Jonah Adams works as an agent for the Incorporeal Revenue Service, impounding delinquent corpses. His girlfriend, Vanessa, is a lawyer who specializes in Afterdeath Debt Reconciliation and Remediation. When Vanessa disappears along with the bioengineer who pioneered shade technology, Jonah, abetted by his indefatigable AI, Sasha, follows their trail from Earth to the moon and into a web of intrigues spun by a sinister corporate culture that has become desperately dependent on cheap shade labor. Dallaire torques his tale with sinuous twists that keep the reader guessing. His real achievement, though, is his credible rendering of a world in which virtual reality and avatar technology are so rampant that it’s hard to tell what’s real from what isn’t—much to the benefit of this craftily plotted futuristic crime thriller. (BookLife)
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