TITLE: 5:30 Return
AUTHOR: William R. Herr
PUBLISHER: Mechanicsburg Press
PURCHASE LINK: Amazon
Science Fiction - Thriller
In the not-too-distant future, tourists flock to the red-light district of Tucson to get high on a futuristic drug and engage in all kinds of debauchery. They hire Juan, a disfigured veteran and recovering addict, to send them in and get them out. Known as "Juan the Monster," he doesn't have a lot of friends. So when one of the few people he cares about, Sammy, dies suspiciously, Juan takes it upon himself to find the truth. Meanwhile, his latest client has vanished, and he's assigned to take over Sammy's old gig, shuttling a developmentally challenged child -- born to an addict -- to and from a drug research facility. But he soon learns that there's more to Tucson's drug trade than he realized...
Like the Hobbsian vision of life without society, 5:30 Return by William R. Herr is nasty, brutish, and short. In a good way. It's a tightly written book that's somewhere between a long novella and a short novel, yet a lot happens in those few pages, with a fully realized world, a plot full of twists, and a fascinating portrait of a very, very damaged man.
Narrated in Juan's dry, unfiltered voice, 5:30 Return reminded me of Sin City with a more sci-fi bent, starring a cross between Deadpool and Jonah Hex. The book establishes quickly that Juan is not a nice guy, and it spares nothing when it comes to gritty details. Yet somehow he seems to be one of the few people around willing to do the right thing when it comes to solving Sammy's murder and uncovering a dark conspiracy.
It's a really quick read that draws you in right away with Juan's distinctive narration. If you're looking for the darker, grittier side of sci-fi, this is your book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will was born to a computer technician and a British immigrant. Over the many, many years of his life, this has never changed.
At the age of 14, he won his first writing competition, the Young Authors conference, and fell in love with writing. In 1996 he produced 'The White Room', his first play, and published Jeremy and February. He then took the next 18 years off, to raise his son, and regrets nothing.
Since then, he has been struck by lightning, has run himself over with a truck (purely by accident), survived seven hurricanes, driven through a tornado, helped lead an invading army to Washington, DC, lost everything he owned, got it back, and lost it again. Technically, one could say that he is currently homeless.