The third book in the Brink series ties up the loose threads in the current story arc. It brings the plot woven around the cult that Bridget Curtis and her team have been investigating to its violent conclusion. Curtis spends the whole of the book deep undercover, operating as a corporate bug finder to gain access to the highest echelons of the company in which the cult is operating. Unlike in previous instalments, however, this is a big operation, with lots of agents involved and plenty of opportunity for their plans to go pear-shaped.
I’ll not go too deep into the plot here – if you’ve got this far in the series you already know what’s going on, and there’s no going back.
Culbard’s experimentation with light continues to create an impact, with the colours used to bring life to the sci-fi surroundings. From clandestine meetings on dark balconies to the bright lights of futuristic corporate board rooms, the use of contrast as the action moves from one space to another is intense. It may not have the stark dynamism that slapped us across the face in the first volume, but take some time to drink in Culbert’s design, because there’s a deceptive amount of depth to it and it’s well worth savouring.
There’s a jarring change to the dialogue in this book, however. Previously, swearing was minimal, but this book is littered with it. However, instead of going down the usual 2000AD route of making up new words, here the dialogue has been redacted with big black rectangles. I didn’t like it: it’s jarring and it breaks the flow of the dialogue. It was better before, when there was no swearing, but if characters have to swear (and there’s arguably plenty of justification for it in the plot of this book), then just let them swear.
However, I can live with it for the solid story that Abnett weaves. His characters are well defined and interesting, the plot is quick-paced and the whole series has shaped up from a small beginning to a decent crescendo of sci-fi thriller. The first book remains the pinnacle, in my mind, but while the ending hasn’t managed to maintain that early near-perfect magic, it’s still a rewarding treat for sci-fi fans.