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Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

Shovel Ready

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Maxim Jakubowski's view...

A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.

Dystopias come and go, but some hit you in the gut with a vengeance. This is one of them. A dirty bomb has exploded in New York's Time Square and the whole city's fabric has fallen apart. Against this apocalyptic background Spademan is a killer for hire with a mortal touch with a box-cutter, disillusioned, his own background a terrible mystery. Hired to eliminate the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, the ex garbage man stumbles across a major conspiracy that disturbs his pragmatic status quo and upends his life. Troubling, witty, near future hardboiled noir with an anti-hero with a touch of the Philip Marlowes but without the sentimentality. A most pleasing blend of crime and science fiction that appears the be the first in a series. I will certainly read the next instalment.

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A hard-boiled, violent tale of life and death in a dystopian future. We are in New York but it is a New York that is a sick place. A dirty bomb packed with nuclear waste went off in Times Square and ever since the city has been a lawless near-wilderness. The poor get by the best they can. The rich have an interesting way to escape. Our protagonist is a tough, amoral, efficient killer. Told in a staccato style with lots of horrible characters and serious violence, the author drives his story forward fast following the twisted logic of the world he has created to a gory conclusion. If you like your thrillers hard and fast this is terrific. Denzel Washington is reputed to want to play the lead should it be filmed – I expect it will be. Dark and violent, it is not for the squeamish.

If you like Adam Sternbergh you might also like to read books by Malcolm Mackay, Michael Marshall Smith and Jeff Lindsay.

Who is Maxim Jakubowski


Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

'I don't want to know your reasons. I don't care. Think of me as a bullet. Just point.' Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, before New York became a burnt-out shell. Now the wealthy spend their days tapped into virtual reality; the rest have to fend for themselves in the streets. Now there's nothing but garbage. So he became a hit man. He doesn't ask questions, he works quickly, and he's handy with a box-cutter. When he's hired to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, Spademan's life is upended. He will have to navigate two worlds - both the slick fantasy and the wasteland reality - to finish the job, clear his conscience, and make sure he's not the one who winds up in the ground.


Hardboiled as f*** with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper-cut -- Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls

Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit -- Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker

Debut novels as sleek, resonant and accomplished as this are a rare gift -- Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me

About the Author

Adam Sternbergh is the culture editor of the New York Times Magazine. Formally an editor-at-large for New York, his writing has been featured in several other publications, including GQ and The Times, and on the radio programme This American Life. He lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a second Spademan novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th January 2014


Adam Sternbergh

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Headline Book Publishing an imprint of Headline Publishing Group




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