Kobo has some problems. His cybernetics are a decade out of date, he’s got a pair of twin sister loan sharks knocking on his door, and his work scouting for a baseball league run by pharmaceutical companies is about to go belly-up. Things couldn’t get much worse.
Then his childhood best friend-Monsanto Mets slugger J.J. Zunz-is murdered at home plate.
Determined to find the killer, Kobo plunges into the dark corners and glittering cloud condos of a world ravaged by climate change and repeat pandemics, and where genetic editing and advanced drugs mean you can have any body you want–as long as you can afford it. But even among the philosophical Neanderthals, zootech weapons, and genetically modified CEOs, there’s a curveball he never could have called.
The Body Scout is my first Lincoln Michel book, and I have to say I was impressed with the writing, for the most part. Lots of intrigue and mystery, and characters with interesting storylines. The author did a great job of catching – and keeping – my interest.
First of all, I want to be honest: when the backdrop of a novel is centered around baseball, I am all in. It automatically gets headspace, for me, because I love the sport. Also, though, because I like the depth with everything surrounding the teams, games, and league politics involved. I think Michel did a nice job with the baseball side of things, too. I did not really see any errors in circumstances, so thumbs up there.
My favorite aspect of the story is the way the sport, technology, and the mystery all collide. We are seeing this today, with the way technology is affecting the sport. And I am sure it is only going to have a bigger effect as time goes on . Add in the murder mystery, and there is kind of a triumvirate of drama. There are so many moving pieces! I love a story that keeps me guessing.
Kobo was an awesome MC, by the way. He gave me vibes of a gritty, old-timey detective… except in the future. I found this to be a little bit of a mind trip, because he has this out-of-date technology on his body along with his constant smoking; so, even though he is “futuristic”, he is pretty obsolete based on his own timeline. It ended up being one of those things that, even though he lives in totally different timeframe, he was also extremely relatable.
There a lot of great characters in this book: the loan shark thugs, Kobo’s ex-girlfriend/lover/part-time partner, the owner of the team, etc. Things get really crazy and chaotic with these characters in a good way. It led to some fun action/fighting scenes and when technology and cybernetics get involved this can be a really cool thing. The interplay between the character set was quite enjoyable.
There is a lot to be drawn from the story about the future of technology and its effects on different facets of society: governing, police work, sports and entertainment. It even affects personal and sexual relationships in a lot of ways. The themes of the book definitely provide an avenue for reflection.
In the end, some of the way the plot points were wrapped up felt a little formulaic to me. I actually said out loud at one point “can’t we just have nice things?” I wanted more baseball, too. I think the author was trying to straddle a line between getting too technical and keeping it general in an attempt to appeal to both the baseball fan and the non-baseball fan. I am not saying Michel did a bad job, just for my taste I could have used a little more of a deep dive. The last thing is, while I enjoyed the technology, I wonder if this was too near-future for the level of advancement. Tracing back a comment one of the characters made about a family member who had watched Derek Jeter in person, I believe this to be about 100 years in the future (I do not think it states anything more direct about a timeline). I wonder how realistic are the technological advancements the author describes for that timeframe; then again, who would have thought 100 years ago we would carry computers in our pockets.
I really did enjoy this book. The Body Scout is a combination cyberpunk/noir/thriller with baseball as the back story, and it hits all the right notes with me. I recommend it for fans of Sci-Fi, cyberpunk, or futuristic noir. Or anyone who enjoys novels about baseball.