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Defining Diana

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Found naked and alone in a locked room. The beautiful woman was in perfect health - except she was dead. It's 2043 and much has changed: nuclear war, biotechnology and all-powerful corporations have transformed the world... Now science is taking DNA manipulation to new, unrestricted levels. Superintendent Frank Steele is an old-fashioned cop. He commands a small, elite polic Found naked and alone in a locked room. The beautiful woman was in perfect health - except she was dead. It's 2043 and much has changed: nuclear war, biotechnology and all-powerful corporations have transformed the world... Now science is taking DNA manipulation to new, unrestricted levels. Superintendent Frank Steele is an old-fashioned cop. He commands a small, elite police unit that is handed all the bizarre and bafflingcases no one else can solve. He knows the money, murders, missing persons and gruesome body shops are all connected... He know it starts with the girl...


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Found naked and alone in a locked room. The beautiful woman was in perfect health - except she was dead. It's 2043 and much has changed: nuclear war, biotechnology and all-powerful corporations have transformed the world... Now science is taking DNA manipulation to new, unrestricted levels. Superintendent Frank Steele is an old-fashioned cop. He commands a small, elite polic Found naked and alone in a locked room. The beautiful woman was in perfect health - except she was dead. It's 2043 and much has changed: nuclear war, biotechnology and all-powerful corporations have transformed the world... Now science is taking DNA manipulation to new, unrestricted levels. Superintendent Frank Steele is an old-fashioned cop. He commands a small, elite police unit that is handed all the bizarre and bafflingcases no one else can solve. He knows the money, murders, missing persons and gruesome body shops are all connected... He know it starts with the girl...

30 review for Defining Diana

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert Runte

    Hayden Trenholm's Defining Diana starts with the classic locked-room mystery: a murder victim is found in an apartment locked from the inside with no obvious signs of break-in or struggle. To this classic "Who done it?" (and "How was it done?") Hayden adds the additional element of "Who was the victim?", and it is this latter mystery that gives us the book's title: there is no trace of Diana in any of the usual databases, so who was she, and how did she become so nearly invisible? In spite of t Hayden Trenholm's Defining Diana starts with the classic locked-room mystery: a murder victim is found in an apartment locked from the inside with no obvious signs of break-in or struggle. To this classic "Who done it?" (and "How was it done?") Hayden adds the additional element of "Who was the victim?", and it is this latter mystery that gives us the book's title: there is no trace of Diana in any of the usual databases, so who was she, and how did she become so nearly invisible? In spite of the title, however, relatively little of the novel is actually devoted to solving this opening mystery. Partly, this is because other, more pressing cases intrude; and partly this murder is only one clue pointing to the larger conspiracy in which the characters ultimately become entangled. The real purpose of the title, then, is not to highlight the initial murder, but to underline the central theme of the novel: the search for identity in a time of rapid technological and social change. Frank Steele, the primary viewpoint character, sees himself as a hard-boiled, hard-drinking detective in the tradition of Sam Spade. Steele's first-person narrative is written in the borrowed idiom of writers like Raymond Chandler, and constantly alludes to various film noir protagonists, as Steele tries to create himself in the image of his film heroes. A champion of traditional values and old-fashioned, gut-guided deduction, Steele is marginalized within a police bureaucracy dominated by office politics, computer-managed investigation, and cost-benefit analysis. My guess is that Hayden named Frank after legendary Mountie Sam Steele to suggest a continuous Canadian tradition of incorruptible, "always get our man" policing, and then dumped the character into a corporate-dominated future where it is uncertain if the police even retain jurisdiction within Calgary's office towers, to see how the character would cope with future shock. But Frank is not the only one facing an identity crisis: Frank's second in command is reeling from the sudden departure of her long time husband, trying to figure out who she is, what went wrong, and whether she should allow herself to date Frank, another colleague, or just go it alone. Another detective is torn between his loyalties to the police and his identity as a cyborg, since leading members of his subculture appear implicated in Diana's murder. Yet another officer is struggling with his slow descent into psychosis. The general collapse of the norms, values, and relationships that Canadians once took for granted are symbolized by the dissolution of Frank's team, both as individual psyches, and as a unit -- the Chief shuts down Frank's department half way through the novel. Indeed, the only one in the book who appears content with his identity is a particularly odious criminal who keeps cropping up as one of "Mr. Big's" accomplices. On the surface, the central mystery revolves around a case of identity theft, but thematically, Hayden makes it clear that it is not just Diana and the other murder victims whose identities have been erased. Everyone in our post-modern world, Hayden seems to argue, has had to compromise some part of who they were to accommodate to the new corporate order. The private security guard who discovers he has lost his father's Sikh roots, and the CISI agent who goes so far under cover he loses everything that matters to him, are just as much victims of identity theft as those who have been erased from the databanks or killed. Thematically, then, Defining Diana is a complicated and largely successful novel. It is, ironically, the surface story that has problems. First, although I accept the Mike Hammer style clichés as a necessary part of Frank Steele's characterization — the whole point is that as he struggles to redefine himself, all he has to drawn on are the ready-made stereotypical identities presented in the mass media — the reader still has to wade through an awful lot of hard-boiled detective dialog. Fans of that genre may well find these constant allusions familiar and amusing, but struck me as painful and distracting. Similarly, the constant shifts between Frank Steele's first person narratives (wholly in keeping with his character) and the third person narratives of the other characters felt like cheating to me. The traditional first-person detective narrative limits the reader to protagonist's perspective — the reader knows what the protagonist knows, and nothing more. But here, every time Frank is left wondering about another character's motivations, we turn the page, and there it is spelt out for the reader in their chapters. The novel might have been a stronger mystery had it all been written from Frank's perspective, though that would admittedly have made it a much harder for Hayden to depict the other character's identity crises. Second, without getting too specific (no spoilers!), I did find the science in this SF mystery to be a little shaky. Hayden doesn't — quite — invoke being bitten by radio-active spiders, but the explanations are almost that pat. I would have liked a little deeper exploration of the philosophical and scientific issues involved in self, identity, and consciousness than are delivered here, especially given that this is otherwise such a philosophical work. And it's just a little hard to accept the evil-scientist-with-secret-underground-laboratory motif as a framework for a serious exploration of anomie. Third, there is an underlying unpleasantness about much of this mystery. Although not exactly splatter punk (the worst gore happens off stage), the crimes are frequently gruesome and leave a bad taste (as was no doubt intended). Furthermore, none of the protagonists are very likable, though one does end up with a grudging respect for those that manage to draw a line in the sand, and so define themselves by saying, "this far and no further". But, even so, I wouldn't want to have coffee with any of them. Overall, I would give Defining Diana a cautious recommendation: fans of CSI or Mickey Spillane probably won't share my reservations with the surface narrative, and the underlying exploration of identity is satisfyingly thought-provoking. Hayden Trenholm is to be commended for undertaking such an ambitious literary novel, and Bundoran Press congratulated for supporting another important voice in Canadian SF. Kudos also on Dan O'Driscoll's cover — what you see is exactly what you get. Reprinted from Neo-Opsis Magazine #16 (Winter, 2009)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Defining Diana is another book in the SF detective noir genre. Superintendent Frank Steele is in charge of the SDU, the "small, elite police unit that is handed all the bizarre and baffling cases" no one else wants. His is a misfit group: Buzz Wannamaker, a Borg; Willa, recent divorcee; Cat, the units forensic expert; Ross, a demented psychopath; and Steele himself, an alcoholic who daydreams of Willa. They have too many cases and not enough time or outside respect to get them solved. But then b Defining Diana is another book in the SF detective noir genre. Superintendent Frank Steele is in charge of the SDU, the "small, elite police unit that is handed all the bizarre and baffling cases" no one else wants. His is a misfit group: Buzz Wannamaker, a Borg; Willa, recent divorcee; Cat, the units forensic expert; Ross, a demented psychopath; and Steele himself, an alcoholic who daydreams of Willa. They have too many cases and not enough time or outside respect to get them solved. But then beautiful Diana Doe shows up dead in a locked room, having died of apparently nothing. Rather quickly after finding her the bodies start to pile up, but solving the mystery of all the bodies is rather hard to to when the Commissioner disbands the SDU. I don't normally read detective noir, but this began as a moderately interesting read that pulled me along. The author bounces from first person POV to third person POV which if you are not paying attention to how he is doing it, can leave you momentarily perplexed. There are more cliches than I would have liked for a setting of 2043, but I think that's the point of this subgenre. *However*, my critism aside, after I picked up on a not so subtle clue, the whole tone of the book changed from interesting and shoved me right into wow, that was really cleverly done! So, it could go either way. I will probably track down his next book as it comes avaliable. Defining Diana was a Prix Aurora Nominee in 2009 and is published by Bundoran Press, Canada.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ryan McFadden

    An excellent debut novel. Defining Diana is a SF novel that is both hard boiled and dark. SF Noir always seems to go so well together (for movies, think Blade Runner...for Books think Altered Carbon) and this is no exception. It's an ambitious novel, with multiple story lines and numerous secondary and tertiary characters who move in and out of the plot. Just go along with the story however, because trying to keep track of all the players can make you go a little crazy. Rest assured that Hayden An excellent debut novel. Defining Diana is a SF novel that is both hard boiled and dark. SF Noir always seems to go so well together (for movies, think Blade Runner...for Books think Altered Carbon) and this is no exception. It's an ambitious novel, with multiple story lines and numerous secondary and tertiary characters who move in and out of the plot. Just go along with the story however, because trying to keep track of all the players can make you go a little crazy. Rest assured that Hayden Trenholm will bring it all together at the end. Look forward to the rest of the series.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rae Roy

    A thought-provoking debut police procedural novel. This cyberpunk mystery tale begins with a body in a locked room and takes us on a journey. We primarily see things through the perspective of the head of the Special Detection Unit or SDU. The SDU gets the cases no one else wants, so their methods aren't always by-the-book. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series. A thought-provoking debut police procedural novel. This cyberpunk mystery tale begins with a body in a locked room and takes us on a journey. We primarily see things through the perspective of the head of the Special Detection Unit or SDU. The SDU gets the cases no one else wants, so their methods aren't always by-the-book. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Moore

    An SF police procedural. Good mystery, good characters and great social commentary that doesn't beat you over the head. The SF element add to the *story*, rather than just being cool flashing lights, buzz words or deus ex machina to get around plot holes. An SF police procedural. Good mystery, good characters and great social commentary that doesn't beat you over the head. The SF element add to the *story*, rather than just being cool flashing lights, buzz words or deus ex machina to get around plot holes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lichen

    Nice mixture of the possibility of medical science (gone wrong?) and detective work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    This is an intriguing sci fi, gene-based, mystery. My rating 4.0. Frank Steele is an old-fashioned, alcoholic cop who struggles somewhat in a technically enhanced world in 2043 where biotech cyborgs and humans are as likely to face off as to work together. Frank commands an elite Calgary police team, the Special Detection Unit (SDU). The SDU is assigned to solve cases that baffle everyone else. The team consists of his second, a strong female detective who is distracted by the recent betrayal and This is an intriguing sci fi, gene-based, mystery. My rating 4.0. Frank Steele is an old-fashioned, alcoholic cop who struggles somewhat in a technically enhanced world in 2043 where biotech cyborgs and humans are as likely to face off as to work together. Frank commands an elite Calgary police team, the Special Detection Unit (SDU). The SDU is assigned to solve cases that baffle everyone else. The team consists of his second, a strong female detective who is distracted by the recent betrayal and abandonment of her husband, a young detective who has chosen to become part biotech and a brash detective who is brutal and psychotic outside of the team. There is also a forensic specialist who has been assigned to them for this latest bizarre case. The case involves the body of a beautiful young woman who is found dead, naked in a room locked from within. There is no apparent wound or cause of death, nor any means to identify the woman. The team must figure out who she is and how and why she died. Additional murders and missing people provide clues to political involvement and connections with gruesome body shops where the bio techs are either implanting or extracting parts…or both. The team presses into the investigation but it seems the killer is always one step ahead as though he or she is getting tipped off from a mole within the SDU. This sets the team members eyeing each other with suspicion. If Frank can figure out how all of the pieces connect to the dead woman he is sure he can figure out the rest of the mystery. But just as the team is getting closer to the truth, Frank’s superior disbands the SDU and pulls everyone off the case. Obviously they were stepping on toes and Frank isn’t exactly one to walk away. This is a wonderfully intriguing mystery told in first person from the primary detective's perspective. There is some language and some gruesome violence that fits a gritty police procedure noir story. The team characters are extremely flawed and purposefully stereotyped. The mystery is well plotted and I like the combination of the crime procedure and cyberpunk elements. I recommend this to those who enjoy noir mystery fiction. Audio Notes: Art Carlson provided an interesting narration. He doesn’t really provide multiple voice accents but his ‘reading’ seemed to fit the noir style of the story. I suggest anyone interested in the story listen to the sample to determine how they feel about the narration. I found it appropriate and not detracting from the story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carly Kirk

    I'm not totally sure what I think about this book... The point of view jumped around from person to person. Basically if they were on the Special Detective Unit we got a brief peek into what they were thinking or feeling about at some point in the book - except for two people, the very interesting cyborg detective, Buzz Wannamaker, and Lily Chin, one of only two females in the unit and honestly a character who could have been removed from the story and it wouldn't have made any difference. I kin I'm not totally sure what I think about this book... The point of view jumped around from person to person. Basically if they were on the Special Detective Unit we got a brief peek into what they were thinking or feeling about at some point in the book - except for two people, the very interesting cyborg detective, Buzz Wannamaker, and Lily Chin, one of only two females in the unit and honestly a character who could have been removed from the story and it wouldn't have made any difference. I kinda feel like Wannamaker didn't get his own narrative just so there could be doubt as to whether he was a good guy or not. Then there's the character of David Ross - a total psychopath - I mean seriously, this dude was scary and I still can't figure out why he's written that way - just so he can go down in a blaze of glory and none of the readers will be sad one of the "good guys" died? And then there's the mystery... for me there were too many people that were part of it and I couldn't keep up with who all of them were. I just don't think I'll be checking out the rest of this series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gaston

    Really a 3++. I liked the hardened Detective with the SF backdrop. Nothing super special but fun to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Full disclosure, I received this book free through the Goodreads First Reads program. 2043, Calgary, Canada, Frank Steele leads a group of police officers who tackle the cases that are too big or too weird for anybody else. But when they discover the body of a young girl who doesn't exist in any of the usual databases, with apparently nothing wrong with her that might cause her death, they get a mystery that may connect with some of their other open cases... and have worldwide consequences. Police Full disclosure, I received this book free through the Goodreads First Reads program. 2043, Calgary, Canada, Frank Steele leads a group of police officers who tackle the cases that are too big or too weird for anybody else. But when they discover the body of a young girl who doesn't exist in any of the usual databases, with apparently nothing wrong with her that might cause her death, they get a mystery that may connect with some of their other open cases... and have worldwide consequences. Police procedurals aren't my favorite genre, but when you add cyborgs and biotech to ANYTHING, it becomes better (shut up, purists, it does!)! The cast also begins as an appealing mix of coworkers with different personalities and believable relationships and interactions among them (some of that changes later, although there are potentially good reason for that), and even some of the secondary characters get a compelling amount of depth. And setting anything in Canada is also a plus. As a minor gripe, while it does feel convincingly like a future Canada, it doesn't really feel like a world with thirty years of progress ahead of our own. Even with all the cyborgs and changes in social policy and advancement in biosciences... too much is familiar and unimproved, it feels more like it's merely ten or fifteen years ahead. For thirty, I'd expect a lot more changes. As for the story itself? I'm a little mixed. I only have a few outright complaints, but it never dragged me in and made me excited about what was coming except, a little, towards the end, when some of the manipulations behind the scenes became obvious and a lot of what I'd previously wondering about became explained. And, to the book's credit, it does a wonderful job of provoking an 'Aha' moment, where things come together and you realize that many of the things you thought were inconsistent or odd storytelling choices, suddenly made perfect sense. The book is one of those that would probably benefit from a reread. The ending also comes a bit too abruptly, and it doesn't feel like the character arcs or the mystery come to a satisfying conclusion. Maybe some of that's intended for a sequel, but right now it feels like one of those Law & Order episodes that suddenly goes to the credits right after it's revealed something dramatic happened with the case they were investigating... there are still a lot of open questions, but it feels like the author decided they were moot. I, personally, would have much appreciated maybe another dozen or so pages (it's not an especially long novel as it is) to clarify some of the hows and whys and, in a few cases, being explicit about whether certain behaviors were due to an involvement the central mystery, or just the people acting weirdly for other reasons. Or maybe I'm just an idiot and missed some obvious pointers to that the first time around. All in all, I'd recommend it to fans of police procedurals, or those who find the back-of-the-book blurb interesting on their own, but it's not the kind of book I'm liable to call a favorite myself. Certainly enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    I received this audiobook for review from Iambik Audio through Audiobook Jukebox's Solid Gold Reviewer Program. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. This is a science-fiction novel which takes place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2043. In this futuristic world, there are both humans and cyborgs. The book starts with the crime described in the synopsis: A woman is found naked and alone in a room that is locked from the inside with no apparent I received this audiobook for review from Iambik Audio through Audiobook Jukebox's Solid Gold Reviewer Program. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. This is a science-fiction novel which takes place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2043. In this futuristic world, there are both humans and cyborgs. The book starts with the crime described in the synopsis: A woman is found naked and alone in a room that is locked from the inside with no apparent cause of death. Other crimes start to crop up in the city, including a bank heist and multiple homicides. Somehow, these seemingly random crimes are related, and it is up to Superintendent Frank Steele and his team to figure it out. Unfortunately, it appears that I am not as bright as Frank Steele because I remained a little lost and puzzled throughout the book! I found it difficult to keep the facts straight between each of the crimes, as well as the characters. Having said that, I still liked the book. I enjoyed the characters, who are all flawed in some way. In Frank’s case, he is an alcoholic who longs for one of his detectives. Trenholm writes some of the funniest quips that I have read in a long time! I love when authors inject some humour into their work. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. If my library has a copy of the second in the series, I would probably be tempted to read it to see what happens next to Frank. This is my first narration by Art Carlson. I thought his narration was fine, although there is some white noise in the background throughout the entire reading. It is not overly bothersome, but it is something that I noticed immediately. MY RATING: 3 stars! I liked it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Humphrey

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lucy_k_p

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  15. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin Powell

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  18. 5 out of 5

    Branchsuper

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave Poll

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scherry

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicie Montanez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Talia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  24. 5 out of 5

    alschriver

  25. 4 out of 5

    Harshavardhini Renganathan

  26. 4 out of 5

    L.T. Getty

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suzanna

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hayden Trenholm

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Lavigne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jacque

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