If anyone has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things fantastic and phantasmagorical then its Kim Newman, and this is one of a classic series of novels he wrote under the pseudonym Jack Yeovil for a British games company. Krokodil Tears is the second standalone novel in the Demon Download trilogy, novels set in a nightmarish cyberpunk alternate present where everywhere is the frontier. This particular story follows the adventures of a downtrodden and brutalised gang girl whose downward spiral takes her from the abused Jessamyn Bonney, to the punky upstart Jazzbeaux, and eventually into a deadly killing machine. It's fresh, fast paced and utterly brutal. Holding no punches. Stephen King tried it and failed with The Regulators, which was far too candy coloured comic book by far. This on the other hand is filled with cultural satire, brilliant sharp observations and a lot to enjoy.
It's like yet unlike our world, heading up the the millennium, with one President North heading the USA and a Prime Minister Archer in the UK. Great corporations and religious extremists reign supreme and the streets are filled with warring gangs with high powered weaponry and altered statistics. Neil Gaiman under threat of Jihad, the patriotic Johnny Lyndon Band Show doing "God Save the Queen", and John Lennon as leader of the opposition. All an excellent backdrop to a classic struggle against adversity. Newman is no cheap hack, and his excellent prose makes the whole thing come to life, so even the ridiculous just slots in neatly to the overall scheme of things and adds that satirical touch, Adding an element of fun the otherwise dark story that unfolds throughout, an utterly corrupt religious establishment trying to destroy an individual who can halt the coming apocalypse. It all leads to an ending which is brimming with tension and comes to a satisfying conclusion.
I almost missed them completely the first time around, gaming related novels tend to slip under the radar, and unfortunately these particular ones are now quite hard to come by. It was well worth the effort, Kim Newman was definitely on form when he wrote these, making all his usual shrewd observations and connections, and I look forward to reading the third and final volume.