“The International Refugee Society has twenty-six cybernetically enhanced ‘Letters,’ and for the right price, they’ll eliminate anyone.”
Agent G: Infiltrator by C. T. Phipps is a science fiction espionage thriller with underlying themes of cyberpunk trans-humanism. The book description reminds me of the Hitman franchise, but initially Agent G comes across as more of a cyborg James Bond than an Agent 47. For example, G states that he gets paid exorbitant amounts of money for his work, yet during his first mission his assistant and fancy gadgets seem to do much of the heavy lifting.
Not being a huge Bond fan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this definitely isn’t a 007 clone. While there are plenty of Machiavellian machinations going on within the Society and lots of fancy technology at play, the meat of the story is thoroughly original, and quite a bit deeper than expected.
The narrative is a little heavy on exposition in the first couple of chapters, and I would have liked to see some of this info shown through events rather than explained, but this also sets up enough background that the story can move quickly once the key elements are established.
My initial impression of Agent G was one of a callous and overly chatty assassin who blithely excuses his crimes by pointing to the Society’s brainwashing. Once the need for exposition is over, however, G begins to evolve into a guy who genuinely cares about the lives he’s touched.
The concept that humanity isn’t necessarily tied to the state of actually being human isn’t a new one, but it’s one I really enjoy seeing explored– and I think Infiltrator does so well. As Agent G learns more about his origins and is revealed to be less and less physically human, he simultaneously becomes more human in his concern for the friends and lovers he’s made at the Society.
While Infiltrator isn’t a warm and fuzzy story by any means, it’s definitely also not just another soulless exercise in high-impact violence. And speaking of that high-impact violence: it’s good.
The action becomes more hands-on as the story progresses (compared to the relatively bloodless hit in the opening chapter), and it’s well-written, gritty, visceral, and brutally fast paced. The narrative covers a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time but the writing never comes across as rushed.
I enjoyed watching G evolve as a person while he unravels the mystery of his past and navigates the feud between the bloodthirsty Society and the equally-bloodthirsty-but-slightly-more-insane Carnevale. Agent G: Infiltrator is a gripping read, and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel!
Final rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.