By the Pricking of Her Thumb is the sequel to The Real-Town Murders and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Alma’s debt is piling up and she really needs a few good jobs to keep paying for Marguerite’s increasingly obscure medication. The police approach her about a murder, the woman appears to have been killed with a needle pushed through her thumb. How is that even possible?

I’m offering you your first whodunnit-to.

I was so excited to return to R-Town, a future version of Reading where most the population spend their time in virtual reality. Except for our intrepid private investigator, Alma. She still has to attend to her partner every four hours and four minutes and now she has to worry about declined credit each time too. Poor Alma, you can really feel her wits stretched.

She’s also having to deal with the unwanted attentions of a police officer, but without being so rude as to lose the case. Then one of the super rich gets in touch. She thinks one of her group has been murdered but doesn’t know who. They interact in Shine only but the gestalt feels off. If Alma can figure out who’s been murdered, maybe the fee will help drag her out of debt.

Meanwhile, her exploits have garnered somewhat of a fan club in Shine. Marguerite’s been writing fan fiction and she wants to find some way to monetise in order to help pay her way. Her fame attracts an odd individual with an obsession with Kubrick.

Money is belief. Simple as that. A complicated network that subsists from month to month because people believe in it.

It’s a true Adam Roberts style puzzle, clever with a side-helping of economics (which is much more interesting when you understand it’s about people, not numbers) and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I loved the solution to it all.

There’s also something very sad, but I felt it had to happen if Roberts intends on making it a longer series as there’s only so much that could have been done with the constraints. I wholly recommend these books, it would work as a standalone but you would get a better sense of the world by reading in order.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 2A. A cyberpunk book
Science-Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo: Cyberpunk

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Book Source: Purchased