Kat and Mouse, Guns for Hire is a collection of fast paced hard boiled stories in a cyberpunk setting. It focuses on a pair of street mercenaries (also referred to as ronin) who take delivery and escort jobs through areas wiser, or at least less dangerous, people avoid. Kat’s a self labeled Amazon and firearms expert; her partner Mouse a small woman who specializes in “all things pointy.” The stories are related via Kat in first person narrative.
Guns for Hire a collection of the “first season” of a web serial. As such, the individual segments (chapters) are structured like episodes of a tv series – largely stand alone, but with overarching elements and plots that slowly develop over the season. It works very well for the material and keeps the action moving at a nice, quick speed. Reading this as a collection has the drawback that establishing prose, such as Kat introducing herself each episode, becomes repetitive and slightly tiresome, but it’s not excessive so can be easily overlooked.
There’s a conversational tone to these tales which helps give a sense of Kat’s personality and world view. She’s not just relating events to us, she’s telling stories about things that effected her and relates them appropriately.
Despite the somewhat cutesy name this series is on the edgier side. The world Kat and Mouse operate in is dangerous, the clients have secrets and there’s no such thing as a “cake run.” One of the great things about this book was the well developed supporting cast, who rose above the roles they fill and added a significant amount of depth to the larger story threaded throughout the season. Another highlight is the way the author integrates his worldbuilding elements. Terms, geography and social structure are all absorbed seamlessly while reading. Some things could have been better explained, but I imagine some of that will come in the sequels.
Though the stories were somewhat uneven at times I was pretty much fully invested by the end and am looking forward to further adventures.
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