Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words
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Ryan Bracha started out in film, writing and directing his first feature. He wrote the follow up whilst living in Paris. More recently the author turned to novels and novellas. His debut, Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet, was three years in the making. He lives in Yorkshire with his wife and a cat.
Britain in an alternative near future is run as a dictatorship. The government, run by Prime Minister Robert Lodge, controls everything through the Network, a version of the world wide web. Criminals are judged by the public, often receiving death sentences for the smallest of misdemeanors.
Enter Paul Carter, originally a man who embraced the new order for personal gain, but he killed a man, seen by all over the Network. Now a licensed gang, the Network Cutting Crew, is hunting him down. Carter evades capture and links up with a small group of people living outside the law and he unwittingly becomes a resistance leader, fighting for a return of old Britain.
The problem is his cousin is put on trial and more than likely will be executed, Carter has just 24 hours to free him.
Paul Carter is a Dead Man is a major departure for Bracha. If you’ve read any of the author’s previous work you will be aware he tends to write challenging, often swear word laden novels people either love or hate.
Here there is no swearing, in fact in future Britain it is banned and is a punishable offence. Citizens use alternative, standard words to express themselves. In addition there is a style change, a mix of first person / present tense (Carter) and third person / past tense. It works well and has the benefit of keeping the pace clipping along throughout.
There’s also the dystopian angle, New Britain is not too dissimilar from today. Social network dominated (although to a greater extent). Modern, but tightly controlled. The vestiges of government, but a dictatorship. Free choice is very limited, about the only element a citizen can do freely is vote on public trials. Scotland is no longer part of New Britain, having resisted the changes. It’s walled off, lawless and exiled from the Network. No one really knows what goes on there.
Really, peeling back all of the above, this is an age old story of one man and his friends against the establishment, trying to make the world a better place for people he will ultimately never meet. Carter is initially unwilling to be put in this position, and rails against it, mainly driven by the desire to free his cousin, then save his friends.
The author is not someone short of confidence, but this is a stiff project to undertake. Paul Carter… is part of a trilogy and I look forward to seeing the other installments.
Nothing of note.
Nothing of note.
Rating: ***** Five Stars