Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

Posted on November 3, 2012


first posted at

Great North Road

Peter F. Hamilton



ISBN 978-0-230-75014-2


In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, AD 2142, Detective Sidney Hurst attends a brutal murder scene. The victim is one of the wealthy North family clones – but none have been reported missing. And the crime’s most disturbing aspect is how the victim was killed. Twenty years ago, a North clone billionaire and his household were horrifically murdered in exactly the same manner, on the tropical planet of St Libra. But if the murderer is still at large, was Angela Tramelo wrongly convicted? Tough and confident, she never waivered under interrogation – claiming she alone survived an alien attack. But there is no animal life on St Libra.


Peter F. Hamilton (alas, no relation) is quite rightly described as one of Britain’s leading sci fi authors.

This is a big read at just over 1,000 pages. We get to track two distinct story lines – that of Detective Sid Hurst and that of Angela Tramelo. Hurst’s storyline is about investigating a crime, a murder that carries a great deal of political intrigue with it. Angela Tramelo was convicted of a brutal mass murder twenty years earlier but an apparent repeat of the distinctive MO, while Tramelo is still in a high security penitentiary, leads to her release and accompanying an expedition to the planet St Libra in pursuit of the alien life form she had insisted was the real murderer.

Of the two stories, I found Hurst’s to be the more interesting and compelling. The interesting part of Tramelo’s story is the backstory and the way it gradually emerges, rather than the actual expedition she is part of.
One of the things I like about Hamilton’s style is the technology he creates that have a sense of reality, although with continuing scientific developments, like plenty of other sci fi authors, his is becoming increasing less ‘far future’ and more ‘not that far off’ in appearance.

The book overall reads well and consistent with general style and approach of his previous work. However I do have two problems. First is the size. This tome could have been slimmed down, perhaps focussing primarily on one of the protagonists. In my opinion, it would have benefited by concentrating more of the sci fi police story and perhaps half the size.

My other problem is with the ending. It all came together far too neatly for my liking. And having the intervention of a super-powerful alien force acting to wind part of the story up so easily, really smacked of a benevolent god stepping in to sort things out. It seemed something of a waste of that much build-up.

As you can see, I have quite mixed feelings about this one.

Posted in: Review