Read Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh Online


An addictive genre-blend of a thriller: the immersive sci-fi of Ernest Cline; the hard-boiled rhythms of Don Winslow; the fearless bravado of Chuck Palahniuk; and the classic noir of James M. CainSpademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. NAn addictive genre-blend of a thriller: the immersive sci-fi of Ernest Cline; the hard-boiled rhythms of Don Winslow; the fearless bravado of Chuck Palahniuk; and the classic noir of James M. CainSpademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he's a hitman.In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap into" a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His clients like that he doesn't ask questions, that he works quickly, and that he's handy with a box cutter. He finds that killing people for money is not that different from collecting trash, and the pay is better. His latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist. Finding her is easy, but the job quickly gets complicated: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has an agenda far beyond a simple kill. Now Spademan must navigate the dual levels of his world-the gritty reality and the slick fantasy-to finish the job, to keep his conscience clean, and to stay alive.Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant....

Title : Shovel Ready
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385348997
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shovel Ready Reviews

  • karen
    2019-04-11 15:25

    You'll leave a trail of trash on this Earth that will far exceed anything of worth you leave behind. For every ounce of heirloom, you leave a ton of landfill.between this and Schrödinger's Gun: A Tor.Com Original, i seem to be on a roll with this noir/sci-fi genre mashup. this book is dark, funny, and a lot of fun. it's also one of the fastest books i have read in a long time. part of it is that it's written in snappy and short bits of dialogue that give it that classic-noir feel, but it's also very actiony, without a lot of time wasted on descriptive passages or unnecessary commentary. from the first page, it's all go-time scene scene scene, and the reader is propelled along in the story in the most enjoyable page-turny fashion. it takes place in future-new york, after a dirty bomb detonated in times square and several subsequent smaller bombs have destroyed the city, turning it into this wasteland of horribleness. that's not to say people don't still live there, because they do, it's just really shitty. the people who remain are mostly the wealthiest inhabitants, who take advantage of this sort of full-immersion virtual reality world and spend their days plugged in to locations and situations of their choosing while nurses tend to the needs of their bodies. the not-so-wealthy who stick around are the stubborn, the crazy, or those without the option to relocate, who keep the city running as much as possible despite the ruin and the rubble. spademan is a former garbageman who now focuses on a different kind of waste-removal - he is a killer for hire, and he is very good at his job, in terms of efficiency, discretion, and a disdain for small talk. I don't want to know your reasons. If he owes you or he beat you or she swindled you or he got the promotion you wanted or you want to fuck his wife or she fucked your man or you bumped into each other on the subway and he didn't say sorry. I don't care. I'm not your Father Confessor.Think of me more like a bullet.Just point.spademan lost his wife in the times square bombing, and now he commutes bleakly from jersey into the wasteland and does his job, no questions asked. when his latest assignment targets persephone harrow, the badass estranged daughter of a famous and powerful televangelist, details emerge which cause spademan to politely decline, as it conflicts with his single hard limit, but this steers him onto a dangerous path where he is forced to travel both the real world and the virtual one in order to live to kill another day. it's a real whirlwind of a book, in which clarity is sometimes sacrificed for pacing. there's a ton of shit i don't understand about this world: the rest of the country is fine, so why stay there if you have the choice, stubborn-rich or not? how does the economy work? how do people get spademan's number to hire him if he swaps the phones out after every job? why is there no rebuilding effort? are all of his jobs in new york? how is that possible? etc etc etc.but FOR ONCE, and going against all of my well-documented complaints in other reviews where i bitch and moan about weak worldbuilding, i honestly didn't care. there's something about this book that managed to override my usual bugbear about authors who don't explain their worlds and i just thought this book was so much fun, my numerous questions didn't kill the book for me. in fact, i barely had time to register them as i was swept away into the next exciting action part. i loved the characters, i loved the parts of the world i did understand (and this is a double shock for me, since i usually hate virtual reality crap), i loved "uriel," and i got so caught up in the twists and turns and double/triple crossings and the snappy fun of the book that i came out of it with only good feelings, and i'm totally on board to read the next book: Near Enemy. i never said i was consistent. maggie's favorite part of this book was the detail that apart from rooning new york, an inexplicable side effect of the dirty bomb is that it killed all the dogs. her favorite passage:Used to be you'd see men with dogs. This was the hour for that. But there are no dogs anymore, of course, not in this city, and even if you had one, you'd never walk it, not in public, because it would be worth a million dollars and you'd be gutted once you got around the corner and out of sight if your trusty doorman and your own front door.she awaits the promised apocalypse.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2019-04-15 18:11

    Find all of my reviews at: “What if I told you I only kill serial killers? It’s not true, but what if I told you that?”“I kill men. I kill women because I don’t discriminate. I don’t kill children because that’s a different kind of psycho. I do it for money.”When dirty bombs are set off in Times Square, the Big Apple finds itself minus half of its population (either from the radiation poisoning or from fleeing to a safer coast) and Spademan finds himself out of his old job as a garbageman. Now he spends his time living in Hoboken and commuting to the city via rowboat in order to “take care” of other people’s problems. He has a strict don’t ask/don’t tell policy when it comes to clients and is very adept when it comes to using a boxcutter . . . When Spademan is hired by a creepy evangelist(AMIRIGHT???? Don’t say he didn’t immediately come to mind for all you sinners too)who runs a “heaven on Earth” commune where you can rent time inthe Matrix? Huh? I have a confuse . . . Anyway, yeah, apparently life sucked so bad after the end of the world as we know it that many of the richest of the rich have opted to tap out of the real world by tapping in to virtual reality and this new antichrist preacher man plans on making his next mint by bringing Utopia to the masses. There’s only one thing standing in his way – his daughter and her dirty little secrets. For the first time Spademan finds himself faced with a bit of a moral dilemma and must figure out who is good and who is evil.I seriously dug this book. I’m going to be totally upfront and say it’s not for everyone. The writing is raw and choppy – and the author does not believe in using quotation marks so there’s a very good chance you’ll go insane trying to figure out who is saying what (or if they are really even talking aloud at all). If you can get past all that, you’ll find a super fresh version of a classic noir. Spademan reminded me of one of my favorite charactersand if you know anything about me, you’ll know it’s an instant love-fest if a book makes me think of Sin City. The pace was fast, there was tons of action and I could almost hear the gritty smoker’s voice as I read Spademan’s soliloquy. I dug it enough I might even pick up the next one in the series (and I hardly EVER pick up the next book in a series).ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2019-04-20 13:36

    Spademan takes care of people's problems. With a set of box-cutters. He doesn't have many rules.I kill men. I kill women because I don't discriminate. I don't kill children because that's a different kind of psycho.The book is set in the future New York after dirty bombs have wiped out most of the population. Then he starts talking about the rich plugging into these stupid tables and living in some kind of cyber world. The shit??I never did figure that part of the book out.Well back to the story. Spademan is contracted to kill a high profile preacher's run a way daughter. Things take a turn there. Pretty predictable outcome on that side.Then there is the writing style. Some parts of the book are interesting. I just had trouble with the way it was written.Example:I'm still rubbing my handThat's very convincing.That it is.So what's the secret?Just that. A secret.It continues. I just got bored typing this.I think the idea behind this book was pretty decent..but the book itself. Not. Here you go Spademan. You can have your box-cutters back.I received a copy of this book from Blogging for books in exchange for an honest review

  • Ɗắɳ2.☊
    2019-04-11 13:11

    Sometimes when people call me, I can tell pretty soon that they don’t want to hire me, they just want to chat. Blow off steam, fantasize, walk up to the edge but not over it. Before I hang up on them, they always throw out that same question.Just tell me: How can you do what you do?I don’t answer, of course, but if I did, here’s what I’d tell them.It’s not the doing-it part that’s hard. It’s the justifying-it part. And I don’t do that.I’m not the decision. I’m just the action.I’m just the bullet.So I don’t need to justify it. Or live with it.That’s your job.And there’s one more thing I’d tell them.The world is full of bullets. Sometimes in the form of speeding buses. Or aneurysms that go pop in the night. Or rotted branches that fall in a snowstorm at the exact moment you happen to pass.Or exploding subways. Or bombs left in gym bags.All bullets.We dodge them every day, until one day we don’t.Shovel Ready takes place in a near-future NYC after a couple of dirty bombs have exploded and set in motion an “incremental apocalypse.” No zombie overrun. No alien armada. No swallowing tsunami. No catastrophic quake. Just the gradual erosion of the will to stick it out. A trickle became a stream became a torrent became an exodus.What’s left are mostly bottom feeders, parasites, and a few of the wealthy who’ve locked themselves away in their fortresses. Tucked into virtual reality beds, surrounded by support staff who cater to their every need, they’re lost and addicted to their fantasies, as their bodies slowly wither away and society crumbles outside their doors.Oh, and there’s one other guy who’s not going anywhere anytime soon. A fellow by the name of Spademan, whose occupation you may have sussed out from his words above. After his wife was taken from him in one of the explosions, he’s fresh out of things worth living for, but he’s still willing to do his part to help clean up the city . . . one vermin at a time.I love antihero stories—those killers with a code—and all of the moral ambiguity strewn throughout those tales. I liked the crisp writing, gallows humor, and clever meshing of hardboiled noir with science fiction. But what I didn’t like was the bait-and-switch feeling that quickly settled over my reading.You see, as a fan of dark fiction, I chose this book in the hopes of getting a detailed look into the mind of a hitman as he plied his trade. I was looking for a story of depravity, wickedness, and immorality that a chosen profession such as that entails. But when Spademan discovered his target was pregnant, completing that contract would go against his code, so instead he assumed the role of bodyguard and detective, and more’s the pity.

  • Greg
    2019-03-28 21:13

    I wasn’t planning on going on a hit man thing, but this is the second novel in a row that I’ve read who has a main character as a hitman. This one was definitely a little different.Set sometime in the near future in a New York City that is a small island of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A dirty bomb has turned Times Square into even more of an undesirable place for people living in New York to venture into (and finally something has driven the tourists away from that bizarre area) and a series of car bombs has made a lot of New Yorkers say fuck this and pick up and leave for better places.I liked the image of this, of New York as kind of a disaster wasteland while the rest of the world still exists as it sort of always has. It’s kind of like what I imagine the rest of the world was probably like in the 80’s movie Escape from New York. The people who have remained in New York City are the rich who hide in their secure buildings with armed guards. They are mostly just jacked into the new incarnation of the internet, which is a full immersion world. Then there are people who have stayed to provide the services to the rich people. Or course, the usual dregs of New York who will never be driven out. And Occupy type kids who have set up camps in Central Park and who seem to be involved in a never made clear type of protest. And we have our main character, a former garbage man turned hitman who kills people with his trusty box-cutter (is this supposed to be calling back images of 9-11?). The book is quite a bit of fun. I’ve been a kind of blah reader lately, not really getting all that excited about things that I’ve been reading and just pretty much reading on the train to and from work, but this one I actually wanted to keep reading and raced through it in one evening. There is a pastiche of genres going on here. It’s got the crime novel / hardboiled / noir thing going on, especially in the terse writing. There is the dystopian elements that we have all come to expect and love in our books. And a William Gibson-esque cyber-punk element with the immersive internet. This last part was actually handled fairly well and didn’t come across as being completely unrealistic or flat out stupid. I’m sometimes kind of annoyed with this kind of virtual reality thing, but for some reason in the world that this takes place in it totally worked for me. There is also some kooky-kristian elements thrown into the story, so that is something that will always hold my interest. This was a lot of good violent fun, and I’m noticing that the reviews here are mixed and it might not be a great book, but it was exceptional as a fun read. And since these days I’m simple and just want to be entertained by the fiction I read it hit the spot perfectly.

  • Jim
    2019-04-16 19:22

    More of a 3.5, but it's quirky enough that most will like it a lot or hate it. It's told in the first person present by Spademan, our oddly broken assassin with a dry sense of humor, melancholy, & a lot of trips down memory lane & off the main path. This serves to build the picture of a not-so-futuristic city & world that's rather scary in many ways. The hero isn't any action figure &, while there is a fair amount of violence, it's not something he dwells on or describes in detail. It happens along the way to him figuring out how to deal with his problem.This was read by Arthur Morey in a gravelly voice that perfectly fits the character. I didn't think I was going to like it at first, but it really grew on me. The undercurrent of humor mixed with the gritty descriptions was odd enough that it became fascinating. The problem was a thorny, twisty one, too.I wasn't as thrilled with the ending as I could have been, but it wasn't bad. A bit too much explanation. I have to say the motivations were excellently done. They don't make a lot of sense at first, but everyone lies.

  • James Thane
    2019-04-04 20:23

    In the Good Old Days, which were apparently not that long ago, the protagonist of this debut novel was a New York City garbage man. But then another major terrorist attack made much of NYC a ghost town, and in the wake of the attack, virtually all of the major businesses and many of the people who once lived there fled for greener pastures.One of the victims of the attack was the protagonist's wife, and in the wake of the disaster, he has gone into a different branch of the disposal business and has become a hitman for hire. He does have his rules and standards, though, among them being that he won't kill children.Now known as Spademan, the killer is hired to target the runaway daughter of a powerful television evangelist. Fortunately, the girl has just turned eighteen, which makes her legal as far as Spademan is concerned. He tracks her down without a lot of difficulty, but then gets an unsettling surprise and the story races off on a different track.Sternbergh has created a dark, eerie vision of a dystopian NYC in which many of the wealthiest citizens who remain there have effectively chosen to opt out of life by spending long periods of time in virtual reality chambers, tended by nurses and others who take care of their remaining basic needs, feeding them through IV tubes and so forth. Meanwhile, the city continues to disintegrate around them while the rest of the country apparently goes about its business, physically unharmed but not nearly the same now that the city that was, to a great extent, the country's beating heart no longer exists.While I appreciate what Sternbergh has accomplished here, this book did not work for me as much as I had hoped. I can understand the emotions that Spademan must have experienced upon losing his wife and his city in the same moment, but I never understood why he chose to become a hired killer. I also had trouble buying into the premise that the rest of the country would turn its back on NYC and let it simply rot away. Especially in light of the way that the rest of the country rallied around NYC in the wake of the 9/11 attack, this didn't add up to me.That said, this is a book that will probably appeal to a lot of readers who are more tuned in than I to sci-fi stories with a heavy noir element. It's gotten a fair amount of critical acclaim and will probably find a large audience.

  • Michael
    2019-04-21 21:36

    I liked this parable-like tale of a jaded, middle-aged businessmen who finds enough conscience to help out a pregnant runaway teen. From page one, we are asked to accept that he is a hitman:My name is Spademan. I’m a garbageman. …I don’t want to know your reasons. …I’m not your Father Confessor.Think of me more like a bullet.Just point.Soon we learn that his transition from regular trashman to his current profession is a fair adaptation to a world gone far awry. The wealthy are spending more and more time in a virtual world, leaving the teeming masses more and more to their own devices. We don’t know what’s going on in the rest of the world. New York City is our cosmos. And ever since an enterprising malcontent set off a homemade dirty bomb in Time Square years before, the city’s economy has become blighted and is now controlled by squatters and gangs. Understandably, Spademan chooses to commute to work from Hoboken. The people he kills are usually the one-percenters who deserve it, and catching them with a boxcutter while they are in la-la land seems fitting.The dystopia is portrayed artfully in stages. We have homage to the cool grit of Gibson’s cyberpunk and the urban decay of P.K. Dick-inspired “Bladerunner”. The difference is that Spademan is basically a Luddite, nostalgic for the 50’s of his youth. When his recent contracted target, Persephone, gives him pause because of violating his one moral code of not killing children (or at least the unborn variety), he has to deal with the forces that still want the contract fulfilled. One pursuer is her billionaire father, an evangelist with a plan to sell a perpetual virtual life in a simulated heaven. To find her enemies, and now his, he has do his sleuthing and battling both in the real world and in cyberspace. For that he has to call in some favors from associates with more skills than he has.I had fun with this imaginative tale and appreciated Spademan’s evolution. As with Lethem’s “Chronic City”, I appreciated the making of New York as an isolated universe. I just wish Persephone and other characters had been developed more.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-04-23 14:23

    Okay, first don't let my inclusion of this book on my "urban fantasy" shelf confuse you. There are no wizards, vampires, werewolves or magic here. The book does take place in a near future world where rampant terrorism including many, many car bombings, a subway bombing and a dirty bomb in Time's Square have turned New York into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is however still heavily populated.While the finical traders have moved on to other large cities around the world the city itself (other than the burned out, blown out and radioactive parts) is still populated. The very rich live in buildings converted into fortresses, the poor live...elsewhere. Don't look for finesse here. Hard, crude language and acts are the rule of the day.I'll give the book this, it doesn't fit neatly into any ready and waiting genre. Our hero is a garbage man...or he was. Now that New York is an even more dangerous and savage place he takes out another kind of garbage. He's a hit man.He is of course that unique brand of hit man that I suspect we find only in books, movies and possibly TV. He has a code. Mostly it consists of, he doesn't kill kids.That's a different kind of crazy (psychopath). Again as I was with Hit Man I'm a little surprised at how much I got into the book.That said, this isn't quite as good as said Hit Man book, but it is interesting and draws the reader into it's world and situation. I suppose the best bet here is try it for yourself. While there are definitely things in this book some will find objectionable, the "story itself" is pretty interesting.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-04-08 14:19

    This month's Post-Apocalyptic Book Club selection!In a dilapidated New York City reeling and in decline after a dirty bomb attack on Times Square, we meet Spademan, who describes himself as a 'Garbage Man.' In fact, he was indeed once employed collecting trash. But now? He's a hit man. Times have changed.The novel has a double-pronged structure - it does a great job of gradually revealing both the history of what happened to New York and what happened to Spademan himself, and simultaneously setting up a noir thriller plot.Spademan is hired to kill a young woman - but what he discovers about her leads him to renege on his contract - and to find himself in an increasingly-deep pile of crap, as he ends up investigating the suspicious promises of an evangelical cult that promises a virtual-reality Heaven - but, of course, hides something much nastier behind the sparkling golden sales pitch.Hard-boiled mystery, cyberpunk, and dystopian genre tropes gleefully rub up against each other in a quick-moving, highly entertaining story.

  • Arjun
    2019-04-26 17:38

    Noir. So so noir. Spare language. Cold dialogue. Lethal plot twists. Everything.There are a few scenes that are kind of impossible given the narrator. Meaning the narrator could not have possibly known the things he is describing. But there is an atmosphere to this, it drips on every page, and given how spare the prose is, this is an accomplishment. It is a major one.You can hear this thing as you read it. You can see the ruined city, you can smell the streets. You can see the blood gush with each and every flick of the narrator's box cutters. Don't worry that's not a spoiler. The story leads to a conclusion that you don't see coming - that's on the author - and that you kind of see coming - that's also on the author. But I didn't see the whole thing coming. The big picture eluded me. Maybe not eluded. But I was surprised. And that counts for something.I kind of wish I could give it 3.5. It's not a 4. But 3 seems low.Movie rights have been sold. It's going to be a dark movie. But a good one.Recommended.

  • Roxane
    2019-04-05 13:38

    Started reading this book last night and could not put it down. Pulpy noir, New York as dystopia, contract killer with a heart of cold...I mean gold. Staccato prose. Subtle, smart world building. Fun, fast read.

  • Wanda
    2019-04-09 21:39

    ***Wanda’s Summer Festival of Reading Fluff***“I may have once had some thin faith in something like cosmic justice, but now I believe in box-cutters.”So says Spademan, ex-garbageman, current hit-man, and very noir protagonist in the gritty, post-dirty-bomb world of New York City. Sternbergh speaks in the crime noir voice quite effectively. Spademan can drink with the best of them when he chooses to. He knows his way around the underworld of NYC and he stays on the right end of the box-cutters, even if he does get roughed up occasionally in virtual reality. Even Spademan’s name elicits comparisons to Sam Spade. Plus, Spademan has the same somewhat twisted set of values of a Philip Marlowe—there are some things he won’t do for any amount of money.“I kill men. I kill women because I don’t discriminate. I don’t kill children because that’s a different kind of psycho.”Sternbergh is no Raymond Chandler, but he writes a good science-fiction noir. The reader must have no prejudices against sentence fragments, dialog sans punctuation, or stream of consciousness. Very entertaining, a quick read. I will never hear that tired politicians’ phrase “shovel ready” in quite the same way again.

  • Emily Finke
    2019-04-19 15:24

    Okay, I don't generally write reviews, but I saw so many positive, glowing reviews of this book from people whose taste in books I generally trust. I felt like there needed to be a slighly different take.Now, first of all, I get where the glowing reviews come from. This is a beautiful, perfectly written, quirky, dystopian, disturbing and perfect for a cyberpunk novel.Unfortunately, it has a bit of a woman problem.Vague spoilers for feel below. They mention a scene, but not the actors or the context, and not the ending.Shovel Ready is an entertaining read. It's a novel with an interesting woman character. The PoV character is a hard-bitten, disturbed, damaged guy. It's extremely well-written for the most part. I'm not sure it's exactly innovative, given that it's a pretty traditional cyberpunk noir escapade. But it's entertaining and nicely done. Someone without my hangups probably won't have a problem with it, and will probably enjoy it a great deal more.I love this genre and I'm used to these conventions, even though I don't always like them. I was with this book, eagerly devouring it, up until about 2/3rds of the way through. Then there was one scene that completely threw me out of the entire book.So, the interesting woman character. Or, should I say, girl, since she's 18 years old and most of her backstory is told about when she was 17.There's exactly one scene told from the her perspective. The rest is told from the man's perspective. Okay, stylistic choice, but I'll go with it.However, the one scene that Sternbergh chose to write from the girl's perspective?Her rape. No, really. That was the one scene that he felt the need to have as a look into her mind. She has no internal dialogue *except* this scene. In a book that is entirely about violence, it's actually fairly subtle. But it's bizarre, out-of-place and strangely uncomfortable.It's also probably the most objectifying scene in a book that doesn't see women as really anything but objects. Even the one woman who isn't a helpless teenager is shown as only sane and coherent when acting in response to her man. Otherwise, she's a drugged out VR-addict. This is a book that's trying to be fresh and progressive, but it ends up being "fresh" and "progressive" in the same way that a Heinlein novel transferred to a cyberpunk near-future dystopia would be "fresh" and "progressive". I'm sure it's wonderfully fresh and progressive if you like your sci-fi hard and your male main characters harder. Me, I'm tired of "progressive" that looks like the same old semi-misogynist 60s writing.

  • Celise
    2019-04-15 15:16

    ”I just tell them I work on missing persons. Don’t tell them how the persons end up missing.” Content Warning: (view spoiler)[ Mentions of father/daughter rape.(hide spoiler)] This is also not young adult.Dark, gritty, different.Spademan is a garbageman-turned-hitman in a New York that’s fallen apart. Most people live in a “bed” where they are tapped into a virtual reality, Spademan slips into their homes and slits their throats while they’re out. Only when his next target is a young eighteen-year-old girl, the daughter of the corrupt evangelist running the city, something stops him short. And this is not a love story in case that’s where you thought this was going.Underrated, I highly recommend people try this. The prose is engaging, it’s a fairly quick read, and never boring. The many twists come about with perfect timing, most of the time in disturbing realization. This isn’t like any other kind of technology-gone-wrong-end-of-America-as-it’s-known type of book.

  • Elisabeth
    2019-03-27 19:20

    Ein wirklich besonderer, spannender Thriller. Hat Spaß gemacht und es waren einfach so viele Dinge drin, die man sonst nicht an jeder Ecke findet. Richtig toll :)

  • Maine Colonial
    2019-04-25 13:35

    Lately it seems like I've been reading quite a few books that felt like screenplays, and this is one of them. It's not just that this story has apparently already been optioned; it's also the dialog-heavy writing, the action-oriented plot and the trendy dystopian vibe.The dystopia comes in because the story is set in New York City after dirty bombs have wreaked havoc on the city and made the divide between rich and poor a chasm. The rich can afford all the protection they now badly need and they can escape the depressing real world by paying big bucks to lie in special immersive beds and escape into the limnosphere, a sort of high-rent internet where their fantasies seem so real that they have to be hooked up to nutritional IVs or they'd die of starvation before they could bring themselves to return to the real world for material sustenance. If "dystopian vibe" is a turnoff for you, maybe you could think of this as as what Dashiell Hammett might do with Sam Spade, or Raymond Chandler with Philip Marlowe, if they were around today. You have the same lean, noir style, with a tough-guy anti-hero who has his own strictly observed moral code.Here, the protagonist is "Spademan," a one-time garbage man who has found a more lucrative living as a no-questions-asked hit man. And when I say "no questions asked," add that Spademan insists that his clients not justify themselves to him. Just point him to the target (as long as it's not a child), pay the fee and back off.Spademan's latest assignment is to take out Grace Chastity Harrow, the daughter of T. K. Harrow, an evangelist who has made himself very wealthy by offering people their own personal heaven in his limnosphere church, Paved With Gold. But when Spademan tracks his target down––finding that in New York she calls herself Persephone––he also learns something that means his moral code will not permit him to kill her.Next thing you know, Spademan and Persephone are on the run; both targets of some very bad people. This game of ultra-violent cat and mouse will play out on New York's half-ruined streets and the hallucinatory world of the limnosphere.It's a terrific story set-up and Shovel Ready is a lean, action-filled ride, filled with punchy, funny, sharp-edged prose. Sternbergh's disdain for quotation marks can make it a little tough to follow at times, breaking up what is otherwise an immersive reading experience, but that's a relatively minor problem.The larger problem is that a bit over halfway through, Sternbergh seems to lose his way. There are quick cuts of flashbacks intended to humanize Spademan, but they fall flat and are more a distraction than anything else. Worse yet, the plot descends into a big confused and confusing orgy of lurid sexual violence and gore.What a disappointment that such a bang-up beginning falls apart. But the optimist in me hopes that whoever adapts this for the screen will be a good fixer and the movie will deliver what the book only promises.Note: I received a free advance reviewing copy of this book.

  • Ryan Smith
    2019-04-01 15:23

    I will be honest and admit I wasn't overly convinced of this novel right away; as a lover of William Gibson and Warren Ellis, the setting and premise felt a bit too familiar and overall the ground felt a bit well-tread. I knew right away I'd probably not be disappointed because this kind of gritty, noir speculative fiction is deeply in my wheelhouse, but I wasn't sure it was going to live up to the expectations I had been building up for it for months. In the end, I had really been swept up by this book, which manages to be more than the sum of its parts, which is not necessarily a knock on the parts. Adam Sternbergh has an obvious talent for pace and a heavily stylized narrative voice. The plot remains a bit well-worn, a heavy-drinking hitman anti-hero meandering about a dirty-bombed New York City full of shanty camp towns and the rich plugged into yet another flavor of a Matrix-like mass hallucinatory cyberspace bites off big on a strange job that only gets stranger. But Sternbergh is a fine storyteller and more than competently ushers along an engrossing tale. But the real strength here is in the frenetic tempo of the entire story, the way tension is elevated higher and higher and kept taut through the end. The real danger of writing in a familiar genre is too easily falling into tired tropes and half-hearted style, and the book manages to mostly avoid it; the grit and noir are convincing and textured, rubbing the right away and making sure it burns. I really can't commend enough Sternbergh's risky approach to style, rapidly hammering one scene into the next with staccato, almost absurdly lean prose. The culminating effect feels like an action movie or graphic novel, with things getting hot early and never settling into any downtime. I was happy to learn, as I suspected, that this isn't a standalone debut but that at least one more 'Spademan' novel is in the works. I look forward to seeing how these characters and this refreshing approach to pace and structure bear out with more time. The world Sternbergh has created may not be as ultimately unique, but it's an enjoyable nod to its predecessors and well worth spending your time in.

  • Kdawg91
    2019-04-05 21:36

    First of all, I give this 4 and 1/2 it isn't perfect, but it's damn close.I can totally see how a book like this would be a either love it to pieces or hate the fuck out of it, but I loved it. The dialogue was crisp, precise, it brought to mind (to mine anyway) Elmore Leonard. Not quite on that level, before you all gang pile on me, but that way that the conversations sound natural, sometimes characters in fiction don't sound like you would ever hear the things they say in real life.I love how this was sci-fi, disguised as a crime novel, The only qualms I had with it was how bleak a book it was, The New York City in this world isn't dying, it's dead and floating and waiting for someone to flush the corpse. The main character is broken and you get the impression he may be way more broken than he lets on. I totally understand the nature of the tale, but the darkness got to me (and that is totally a "ME" thing, your mileage may vary)Mr. Sternbergh, I'm novel of yours I will try for sure. My number one rule on picking up a new author, he/she must make me interested enough to look for their name again in the bookstore, you did it.go check this book out

  • Phils Osophie
    2019-03-28 21:29

    Leider jede Menge verschenktes Potenzial. Setting, Schreibstil, Charaktere, Atmosphäre: absolut genial. Schade nur, dass keine gehaltvolle Story erzählt wird, die dem schwarzen Humor und der irrwitzigen Grundidee gerecht wird.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-18 15:39

    Before reading "Shovel Ready", I hadn't realized what I was missing. I kept picking up books and setting them down again, nothing was quite right. But then I came across Sternbergh's unique debut and realized: what I had been looking for all along was a bleakly funny noir mystery featuring a wise-talking garbage man-turned-hitman! It sounds crazy, and it is, but it works. Spademan is an appealing antihero, perfect for Dashiell Hammett fans. I can't wait for more from this talented author!

  • Christopher
    2019-03-27 15:37

    This starts really really well, and then seems to fall apart during the last third. I might do a full fledged review later, but for now I just don't care enough. I'll read the blurb and some reviews of the next one, but this one didn't have enough hitman in it considering its lead character is a frikkin hitman, and didn't have enough mystery in it considering how noir the tone is.

  • Miriam
    2019-04-02 18:38

    It's like Raymond Chandler and William Gibson had a baby and that baby is Shovel Ready.

  • Mike W
    2019-04-20 19:18

    I found shovel ready on a list of 2014's best fiction and thought it sounded interesting. It turned out to be perhaps my favorite read of the year so far. I loved this book from its terse prose to its unique and prescient plot. Shovel ready is a dark but stimulating read that entertains throughout and also provokes thought.The book is set in a near future New York that has been the target of a dirty bomb, and so has become a dystopian setting long abandoned by most who could afford to leave. We follow Spademan, a garbageman turned hitman as the world changed. We learn that he kills men and women equally but that he will not kill anyone under 18. The novel picks up with his newest job, and he learns something about his target, a young woman who meets his adult requirement by just a couple of weeks, that sets the plot in motion.Perhaps most interesting is that a newer, better form of internet called the limnosphere has become available to those with the money to use it. Reminiscent of the Bruce Willis movie "Surrogate", the limnosphere involves "tapping in" via a bed and then interacting in a virtual world where every touch and emotion is as real as the real world. Of course, to many with the means, the limnosphere has become preferable to the real world, and an entire economy of support for the "sleeping" user has been created. Security, nursing etc... I don't want to give away any of the plot, but suffice it to say that Spademan does plenty of work in and out of the limnosphere and it tends to be both interesting and thrilling as he uncovers the truth about his case as well as the shocking true reasons behind the limnosphere's success. Along the way, there are some really interesting characters and a lot of violent action. Shovel Ready, it seems to me, is also Hollywood Ready, and I'll be shocked if this isn't a movie within a couple of years. I read that Sternbergh is already working on a second Spademan novel, and that makes me happy. Shovel Ready was a great bit of Cyberpunk with a modern, relevant feel. I highly recommend it.

  • Elizabeth A
    2019-04-22 20:26

    I was drawn to this book by the premise: Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a bombed-out shell of its former self. Now he's a hitman. In a New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap into" a sophisticated virtual reality for months at a time and those left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. I really enjoyed this gritty, dark, violent, often funny sci-fi noir novel. I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Arthur Morey, whose gravelly voice was pitch perfect for this story. There's a hitman, or four, there's a damsel-in-distress, there are theological musings, and a critique of people who spend all their time in a virtual reality. A fast paced thriller with nuggets like this one: You'll leave a trail of trash on this Earth that will far exceed anything of worth you leave behind. For every ounce of heirloom, you leave a ton of landfill.It will not be for everyone, but if you like this kind of story, I'd highly recommend this one on audio.

  • Randy
    2019-04-06 18:25

    I thought I would have problems when I started SHOVEL READY. I don't usually get into novels written with no quotation marks around the conversations. But it didn't take long for me to get caught up in the story and that lack faded into the background.The set-up is a near future New York where a dirty bomb had been set off in Times Square. It didn't kill the city, just the tourist trade. The rich engage in n internet one step up from the regular old thing, spending most of their time in virtual worlds that are almost real, watched over by hirelings.Spademan is our erstwhile hero and he kills for a living. man, woman, it doesn't matter, and he listens to no sob story. Just a name and payment. The only line he draws is children.Spademan gets a job from the future version of a televangelist who wants his daughter murdered. There's more going on when he learns the girls is pregnant and that pretty much cinches no deal for him.Course the preacher doesn't see it that way.Not a bad set-up at all.

  • Beverly
    2019-03-26 15:18

    This gritty near future-noir thriller set in New York City after a dirty bomb exploded in Times Square thrilled me from the first page to the last, so much so that I immediately had to search the internet to see if there was a publication date for the next book. A former garbage man now hit man Spademan is my type of anti-hero protagonist – devastatingly ruthless yet ruled by his conscience. Fast-paced action, strong storytelling, a dollop of humor, and flawed compelling secondary characters rounded out this delectable read. Recommended for fans of urban noir who don’t mind a tinge of fantasy thrown in.

  • Tom Mathews
    2019-04-25 18:33

    A contract killer who inhabits a post-apocalyptic New York City after a dirty bomb terrorist attack finds his job challenging when he finds out that his latest target is a pregnant teenager on the run from her father. As entertaining as it is unusual.

  • Col
    2019-04-24 17:27

    Synopsis/blurb.....The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire. Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.Now he’s a hitman.In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground. Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.--------------------------------My take.....Not my usual read in that I’m not a fan of books set in the future, albeit a future just around the corner, with enough of today’s realities present that it wasn’t a totally alien landscape. I just don’t like, get, understand or enjoy sci-fi-type fiction full of gizmos and gadgets and techno-doodahs that I can’t visualise – though to be fair on this occasion there is not a lot of that present. (I’m just having a bit of a rant.) Why read it then? Well I do have a soft spot for hitmen and the premise would indicate that there’s a guy doing a lot of hitting here and in a noir-ish fashion.Well it was okay in a time filling, not the worst thing I’ve ever encountered way. It started brightly and I wanted to read on and see how things played out and at no point did I feel like quitting. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the outcome.Our hitman was a former garbageman, like his father and in some respects he’s stayed true to his vocation, only the garbage now is of the human kind. New York – post dirty bomb, he’s lost his wife, he has no children and few friends. I couldn’t feel his motivation for his work. He’s hired for a job that he takes, until he realises that it conflicts with his rules, which then sets him at odds with his employer. The story then continues until we have a resolution.Dynamite? NoGritty? Sort ofViolent? In placesFunny? Not especiallyRiveting? Not particularlyTender? Didn’t think soBrilliant? NahVerdict 2 or a 3, 2 or a 3, 2 or a 3? Hmm........3 on balance. A bit of credit due for trying something a little bit out of the box, and like I said I didn’t ever feel like throwing in the towel and quitting. Hopefully others enjoy this one a lot more than me.Shovel Ready is available now for kindle and I believe is published in July in paperback.Another Net Galley book.

  • Julie
    2019-04-25 14:41

    Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh is a 2014 Crown Publishing release. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.This Dystopian / Post Apocalyptic novel came at along just the right time for me. I have not read this type of book is such a long time it was an interesting change of pace. A garbageman loses his wife in terrorist attack, sees New York dry up and become like a ghost town, then turns to the life of being a hitman. When he is hired by a powerful television evangelist to not only find his daughter, but to kill her, it's just another job for Spademan. He doesn't ask questions, but he does have lines he will not cross. He's an equal opportunity killer with no qualms about killing men or women but will not kill children, giving him at some small modicum of integrity. He navigates through the dangerous New York streets searching for his target, but when he locates her things get complicated right away.When I saw this book was listed as a science fiction crime drama with work Noir thrown in the mix, I couldn't help but wonder how that was going to work. Yet, strangely it does. The story conveyed the starkness of the city of New York after most people had moved away. If you had funds you could slip into a virtual reality and avoid dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attack which consisted of two dirty bombs, but most had to confront life on the streets in an all too bleak reality. The irony of the tale will not be lost you, as Spademan become immersed in the world of Grace Chastity otherwise known as Perephone. Atmospheric, gritty, dark and at times humorous, there is indeed a heavy noir theme in the air accentuated by the sparse dialogue. What was real, what was the truth? The reality or the virtual? Spademan must fight a battle in both realms.I thought this book was well done and imaginative with quirky characters, which I always enjoy in a book. It was a little depressing, but I loved the crime element that mixed in with the science fiction element to give the book a unique spin and should, as a result, appeal to a broader audience. It is hard to picture New York being abandoned and left to crumble and die, but I could see this happening in the future when people would perhaps rather just get out of dodge, since apparently New York is a favorite terrorist target. There were some gaps where the reader is not fully informed about the motives behind some of the characters' actions and these holes were never filled with an explanation leaving us to wonder about how a character had developed into the person we are currently becoming acquainted with. It's not all that hard to figure out where the plot is taking us, but it didn't really matter because it was all about the twist and turns and drama that would lead up to the climax. I was fascinated by the book and it's mix of elements you don't find in novels too often. If you like dystopia , mystery, crime drama , with a strong science fiction and noir tone, then you should check this one out. 4 stars for this one.