The Final Transmission takes place in Toronto, Canada, and follows Detective Benoit Michaud as he investigates the brutal murders of several people who appear to be a part of a cult. However, the circumstances surrounding their deaths is indeed curious and quite mysterious. Michaud’s case soon balloons into something much bigger than he could have imagined–something that threatens the entire world.
Clement’s book is both a good old detective mystery and a gory science fiction tale. The story gets just a bit complicated because of the all the parties involved, but at its core, it is about Michaud getting caught in the middle of an ancient rivalry between two cults–The Ordo Sanctus and the Olog’lahai’kuhul (your guess is as good as mine on how to pronounce that). The tome offers up a unique blend of history, modern technology, and the supernatural/occult that I really enjoyed.
The featured antagonist in The Final Transmission is a man called “The Cleaner.” But as you can probably gather, he doesn’t clean with paper towels and Lysol. The Cleaner disguises his appearance with a long overcoat, bowler hat, and gas mask, and carries around what I would call the most badass weapon ever–a lantern-like object that emits a green glow, and then completely incinerates the human body in a matter of seconds. Many characters fall victim to this device throughout the book and it was awesome to picture it happening every time. Clement also gives readers some nice instances of body horror and creature mayhem with certain elements of the story. My only real complaint on that front is that I wish this was explored in greater detail.
Michaud is a likable enough character, though he sometimes comes off to as being harsh or blunt. He obviously has some demons in his past but is working on making things better for himself to avoid being the “cartoon stereotype of the hard-drinking, chain-smoking detective.” The stereotype is still there, however, because Clement keeps bringing it up, and keeps bringing up Michaud’s desire for a cigarette or a drink. Michaud would have been a much more interesting character if he weren’t so similar to every other hard-boiled detective from countless other movies and books. His assistant, Karen Wendleton is a tattooed, bicycling independent woman who couldn’t be more different than Michaud. The two have a very symbiotic relationship, though, and their concern for each other goes very deep.
It’s a good thing Clement already has a sequel in the works because while The Final Transmission has a great ending, it definitely leaves readers wanting more. The writing could use some tweaking to make scenes more fluid and easier to follow, and some of the italicized lines read more like script notes than character’s thought processes, but it is a fine debut novel and it left me anxious to see what the author has in store for us next time.