In Review: The Mutant Files: Deadeye

If you're looking for a lot of action that doesn't make much sense, this is fine entertainment.

The Mutant Files: Deadeye by William C. Dietz

Published by Titan Books, May 1, 2015. Paperback of 272 pages at £7.99.

The cover: Gene Mollica is responsible for the illustration on the cover. Detective Cassandra Lee has both guns in her hands as she stands before her police station and the setting is a mess. It looks like a bomb is going off as the palm trees are getting blown to the side, there’s a explosion coming off the roof of the building, and the LA skyline looks like it’s in ruins. Just a normal day for her in 2038. The image of Lee is good, with her looking like Halle Berry. In fact, this looks like a potential movie poster. Interesting side note: the English version of the book has the author’s name and book title straight, located in the bottom half of the cover, while the American version has a slightly tilted title, with the image pulled in tighter on Lee. Interesting. The cover I’m reviewing is the English. Overall grade: A+ 

The premise: From the back cover, “In the year 2038, and act of bioengineered terrorism decimated humanity. Those who survived were either completely unaffected or developed horrible mutations. Across the globe, nations are now divided between areas populated by “norms” and lands run by “mutants” — Detective Cassandra Lee of Los Angeles’s Special Investigative Section has built a fierce reputation taking down some of the city’s most notorious criminals. But the serial cop killer known as Bonebreaker — who murdered Lee’s father — is still at large. Officially, she’s too personally involved to work on the Bonebreaker case. Unofficially she’s going to hunt him to the ends of the earth.” I like books slightly set in the future, and having a dramatic change in the world occur due to biological terrorism is believable for an action novel. I’m interested to see how Lee goes after Bonebreaker. I’ve enjoyed Dietz’s Legion of the Damned novels, so I’m expecting to enjoy this as well. Overall grade: A

The characters: Cassandra Lee is a young, attractive, butt kicking heroine. She’s driven to be the best she can be because of her father’s murder. Among all the officers in her department, she has the nickname “Deadeye” because she never misses. When something goes down, she’s the one who gets dirty first. Obsessed with her father’s death, she has a room in her apartment devoted to all the clues that will lead her to the Bonecrusher. This sums her up and her character remains consistent throughout the book. She doesn’t grow or learn anything new, only that she’ll do what others won’t. Her first partner is Bryce Conti, but he lasted about as long as one of Dirty Harry’s partners. He’s in the book to show readers that being Lee’s partner is not a good thing. Her next partner is Ras Omo, a mutant from the Red Zone. He’s a deputy from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and his face is always hidden by a blank mask, typical of those who are mutants. He comes across as masked version of Joe Leaphorn. He’s strong (but not superhuman), smart, and got a secret or two. He was incredibly enjoyable to read. The Bonecrusher is a presence that inspires dread in Lee and he’s built up incredibly, but he’s not the villain of this book. The antagonists are whoever is responsible for kidnapping Bishop Screed’s daughter Amanda. Several gang members and hoods are met, beaten, and killed, as the two protagonists locate Amanda. I didn’t like who ultimately had the girl: it was too over-the-top for me. The book begins with a series of characters that were good in an action novel, but by Page 187 had become second rate villains from a Destroyer novel. It became difficult to feel any real tension with these baddies. Overall grade: C

The settings: In California the book is amazing. Over a third of the population has died from the biological hazard, one third unaffected, and the final third mutants. It was an incredibly clever environment combining the familiar and the changed. Every neighborhood that Lee and Omo went to seethed with danger. However, a new location becomes the focus beginning on 187 and things went downhill. I just couldn’t believe the location; it was too silly, like a Roger Moore James Bond outing. I was very disappointed in where it went and what happened there. Overall grade: C+

The action: As with the setting, the LA sequences are stunning. Fantastic, tense action that had me on the edge of my seat. Page 187 became unintentionally humorous, that expanded to include a war. Too, too much. Additionally, the heroes are put in an extremely deadly situation and the solution to it on Page 225 was not only unbelievable but intolerable. I realize that writers are allowed one plot point to move the story along, but this was outrageously over-the-top and improbable, and then it’s just shrugged off by the heroes. I couldn’t believe it. Anything would have been more believable than what’s given. It left a bad taste in my mouth that I still haven’t gotten over. Overall grade: C-

The conclusion: The case is solved, with a nice bit of justice for the individual responsible for the kidnapping. No one really changes or grows, but this is acceptable for an action novel. Overall grade: B-

The final line: This is a drop in quality from other books by Dietz. I’ve read much better and know he can do better. If you’re looking for a lot of action that doesn’t make much sense, this is fine entertainment. Overall grade: C 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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