Reviewed by KJ Van Houten
Mumbai Manhunt shows a rather bleak picture of the future. The world is caught up in climate and environmental changes, rapid growth, big industries, out of control global corporations, and information overload. The story centers around Palashkulum Joshi – an enhanced human who works as a mercenary for Corporate Services – and Netta Schulmann, a scientist also working for ‘CorpServ’. Three years previously Joshi had helped newly employed Netta settle into her new lab in Mumbai, which she runs solo. Now Joshi has been sent to destroy her work.
We quickly learn that Joshi and Netta had indulged in a brief liaison previously, so this colours both of their perspectives. This comes out strongly when another CorpServ mercenary, Bao Chu, shows up, sent to get rid of Joshi as well as carry out the mission against Netta. After a struggle, with Bao Chu, Netta and Joshi escape into the streets and alleys of Mumbai while seeking a more permanent way off the grid and out of the CorpServ realm of attention – rekindling old emotions along the way.
It seems that the real antagonist is Corporate Services itself, but I feel that not much is explained about it. I notice that Mumbai Manhunt is the second in the Corporate Services series, so maybe more of the world is explained or developed in this first one. For now, I have questions about CorpServ – how big is it? Global, yes, but across how many industries? What services does it cover? Who are its major clients? Who controls it?
Futuristic, romance, and enhanced humans – what’s not to like? Oh, and I forgot plenty of action! This novella is nonstop from page one. Just when I thought ok, time for a breather here, nope, something else got thrown at our hero and heroine. At least this does end with an HEA, but I am left to wonder about the fate of a couple of other characters. Maybe they will show up in future stories. Particularly interested in Yashilla, Joshi’s ex-girlfriend-now-friend and superhacker. What is her background? How did she get to be so good at hacking? How does she succeed in staying out of CorpServ’s reach? What happens to her after the end of this story?
I am giving Mumbai Manhunt a 4-star instead of a 5 because of the questions I had afterward plus I felt the enhancements were not used very effectively in the story. Oh sure, there were some great fight scenes, some fast healing, some interesting VR interaction with the environment, but they didn’t seem to add much to the story as I’d hoped. They seemed more of a convenient plot device to move characters along. I probably should give the author more leniancy, as the story was fairly brief so there wasn’t a lot of time or ink used up to develop these more. Did a good job with character development otherwise. Although near the end, one character acted in a manner that I felt was inconsistent with what we had seen up to that point.
Bottomline: While I rarely read anything this short, Mumbai Manhunt was an enjoyable, fast-paced read. I think it sets up ideas for future stories and there’s a lot of room for the author to expand on the ‘world’ created.
Note: A copy of this story was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.