Book Review: Head On

Following the events that transpired in Lock In, John Scalzi returns to the scene of crime in yet another thrilling sci-fi mystery set in the near future, expertly blending technological speculation about advancements in artificial intelligence and neural networks to the world of sports, devising a violent game called Hilketa that's played by threeps (anthropomorphic robot-like bodies piloted by people who suffer from Haden's Syndrome) where the goal is to pull your opponent's head and carry it to through the goalpost. Head On opens with one such electrifying game in progress, only this time a star athlete drops dead on the field, and as Haden cop Chris Shane and his superior Leslie Vann begin to poke around, what starts as a routine investigation quickly escalates into a series of murders, uncovering the dark side of Hilketa and the larger ethical issues associated with abusing technology to further one's business interests. Having dispensed with the set up in its prequel, Scalzi delivers a polished, meaty mystery that's at once entertaining and food for thought.