Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“All the grief that made her want to squeeze her eyes and weld them shut forever was being redirected into the molten core of her soul.”
I was very pleasantly surprised with this one! After reading an intriguing blurb about a hi-tech future, women rulers and a killer on the loose, I was very interested to see how the author pulled it all together without getting lost in too many themes. The result? It was PERFECT! Incredibly gritty, captivating and fast-paced, the story did exactly what it meant to – drew me in and left me wanting more of it!
Hot Ash And The Oasis Defect by Philip Wyeth is set in the year 2045. Automation has freed humanity from the drudgery and limitations of blue-collar labor. For twenty years, a remarkable group of female bureaucrats has overseen an ambitious construction program that is spreading equity, prosperity, and peace worldwide. But Detective Ashley Westgard of the Jacksonville Police Corps senses that beneath all the glimmer and shine, a new malaise has taken root in society. From brazen acts of criminality and rampant party pill abuse, to her own insatiable desires… All is not well on the road to paradise.
Ash is beautiful, vain, headstrong, and erratic. A symbol of her time as she careens from impulsive shopping sprees to drunken fights to escapades of sin. But now that a methodical killer is on the loose, she must rise above apathy and doubt in order to forge her raging inner fire into a fearsome weapon of justice.
What a fierce, feisty, no-bullshit main character Ash is! This strong female lead takes a hold of the opening of the book and instantly gives you the impression she is a woman you wouldn’t want to mess with. Her personality shines through in the first chapter, and I could tell she was going to take the readers of this book on quite the ride. With an honorable career, Ash shows us from page one that she’s a important member of society, but that she can also have a bit of fun whenever she wants with wild nights out with her friends. After all, the work/play balance is crucial to pretty much anyone! With the year being 2045, there are a significant number of technological advancements – this was drip-fed slowly into the story, allowing us to see how normal this was in the day-to-day lives of our characters, and just how far the human race has come over the years. Very different to what we’re used to today!
Women play a very important part in this story, so if you love a book with a strong female presence, this is definitely the perfect read for you. Ash finds herself using her interrogation skills and carefully selected vocabulary to bring down criminals and effectively carry out her detective work. I loved how confident this character was both on and off the job and it was easy to love her and her motives. However, Ash gets more than she bargained for when her new case emerges. A slashed throat, pools of blood and messy footprints – what had happened here? The start of a mystery really excited me and I was looking forward to seeing how Ash and her team would deal with this, and what they’d find and experience along the way.
The book has a lot of dirty humour which did make me laugh and we come to realise that Ash is a bit of a thrill seeker with her sexual partners. She sometimes finds it difficult to separate work and romantic feelings, but with this particular case, she understands the girl witness involved in the trauma is young and vulnerable. By putting on her serious work front, she thinks more about what could have happened in the incident and just what the killer’s motives were. Any type of mystery really excites me and I built up a few of my own theories in my mind. Already, the reader is beginning to question so much and the book quickly builds up curiosity for us. Things were certainly a little bit off!
“She thought it was important to deliver a personal touch when apprehending lowlifes.”
The way in which we hear the side stories of Irma, the witness to the murder, and Vernon, a depressed gamer with his own dark thoughts, (who would soon be a crucial character in the story) made the book so much more involving. It bulked out the story further, giving the reader a greater insight into some crucial behind-the-scenes info. It helps us to build a bigger picture in our minds, draw our own conclusions as well as gloat a bit because we know more than the other main characters do! All these points combined created an impressive start to the story, and I was keen to see what else we learn about Ash and the new case she has to work. How dangerous could things get?
Another horrifying case is unveiled with yet more bloodshed – gruesome and saddening for the characters but exciting for the plot of the story! When Ash is called to the scene, she finds herself face to face with Vernon, who now becomes a witness. She could read his expression and aura, understanding the internal battle that was going on in his mind. This familiar mindset drew her in and gave her so many ideas to help him grow and, as you can imagine, her inappropriate thoughts got the better of her again! Perhaps Vernon was the person she needed to feel alive again? I did feel sorry for Ash sometimes. Even though she was a character with extreme sexual needs, mountains of confidence and all the looks, she didn’t seem 100% happy all the time.
Another point in the story which I found an interesting route was that women were the superior gender, pretty much ruling the world and with many of them benefiting from better opportunities than men, including jobs and education. Vernon, for example, a ‘runt’, receives a monthly stipend without the need to work, and it was common for males in his situation to suffer from illness and thoughts of suicide. As sad as this is, Vernon’s encounter with Ash seems impossible to erase from his memory. Would there be a repeat of that night? Could she be just the thing he needs? With Ash back on a murderer’s trail, there is an unlikely suspect, someone who she already knows…a shocking discovery!
Ash makes it her priority to find out the truth about what happened in the mysterious murder case of Mallory Quentin. With Vernon by her side, they fill in the gaps about that horrifying night with an added bonus – showing Vernon all the things the world has to offer. I liked how both Ash and Vernon had a serious effect on one another, an unlikely pair who needed one another, even if Ash didn’t want to admit it at this stage! However, if she nailed this case, her life could get a whole lot better. I found myself rooting for both of these characters, and even hoping for a positive outcome for the case at this point. There was still a lot to solve, but they were well on their way. Could Ash keep her feelings to one side until the case was solved?
“But as of yet, there was still no technology available to resuscitate humans in the way that objects could be replaced.”
I really enjoyed reading about how Ash and her team interrogate the right people and find out new important information about the murder – the story has everything a good mystery needs, and more! (Can you tell I love murder mysteries?!) The book flows at a great place and is easy to follow and digest, giving you time to think about your own conclusions before finding out the truth. The author has perfectly drawn his readers in with his character creations, their relationships as well as the intriguing puzzle the characters have to solve. My curiosity was at an all time high by the time the ending of the book arrived – will we get some closure? How will Ash feel if things don’t go to plan?
As another body is found, Ash has to work harder than ever to get to the bottom of this mystery. With so many deaths being linked together, more and more questions arise, and the story becomes so exciting towards the final few chapters. I felt so involved as Ash and her fellow detectives worked together to interview witnesses and suspects, and I half wanted to to jump into the action myself! There was one particular character, Naomi, who I really felt for at this stage. She personally knew the victims well and the possibility of becoming the next victim in this cycle of killings was terrifying for her. Hopefully the detectives would be able to solve this mystery before any more lives were lost.
Researching lethal pills with unpredictable side effects and unraveling the killer’s trail was especially exciting, and I found myself wanting to read more and more of it! (It’s a good thing book 2 is currently in the works…) However, the killings were not over yet. The book ensures the ending of the story is just as fast-paced and action-packed as the very first chapter, especially when Ash pays a surprise visit to a character with crucial information. This particular character could be the very person she needs to solve the whole case. As a huge ambush goes down, we see Ash in all her bad-ass glory – a perfect scene for the end of the book!
We soon come to learn of a suspect’s motives which were simple, yet understandable for the nature of the story, and it all seemed to ‘make sense’, no matter how ridiculous it sounded. Life in 2045 was much different to what we know it to be, and with women more superior, it’s understandable why only the females were victims. We learn much more about the crimes here which was an interesting and satisfying ending to the book, but one particular scene at the end throws everyone off – so gruesome and shocking, almost forcing us to ask a hell of a lot more questions! Having something so big happen right at the end of the book is a tell-tale sign that the next book will be just as good.
“There lay a new realm where the feelings were richer and more enveloping, if not as frantic or thrilling as what she was used to.”
By the end of the last chapter, we get closure, but I think there’s definitely more we can explore in book 2, and I can’t wait! The ending of the book makes us realise just how much Ash needs and wants Vernon, especially after being forced to step away from a case she’s worked so hard on. Who knows…maybe Ash’s journey isn’t over yet, or maybe there will be something much bigger in the works for her in the next book. We’ll just have to wait and see! A great, shorter read, but this doesn’t negatively affect it in any way. Five stars from me! 🙂
If you like strong, feisty female characters, gruesome murders and an unforgettable mystery, you need to read this right now! Hot Ash and the Oasis Defect shows that women can pretty much do anything in this society, and just how much things have developed over the years. It was great to see so many futuristic elements as well as a few steamy scenes from time to time, making it a great book for fans of a multitude of genres. I’m sat here eagerly awaiting book two already! The author has done such an amazing job creating real characters and a memorable story line, and the effort really shows. Reading this is definitely recommended!
Thanks so much to the author, Philip Wyeth, for the copy of the book for me to read and review! You can grab your own copy of the book here – it’s available in many places in many different formats. Make sure you’re following Philip over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates, and take a look at the rest of his work over on his website.