THE FUSE is an easy title to get locked into, probably because it hits the same types of exciting beats as a TV crime procedural, and -- like with a crime show -- there's an inherent call to help solve the mystery from home. Every twist conjures up an "aha!" (or the crushing defeat of a theory debunked), and it's a quick, engaging read.
The setting is foreign, but not at all distracting; there's space-y jargon like "cabler" and "bouncer," but everything seems easy enough to follow. I'm especially a fan of how Johnston melds so many cultural nuances into THE FUSE's cast; hearing Ralph's occasional German exclamations, or trying to piece together just how post-Cold War this world is makes things interesting.
Characters are king in ensemble books, and I'm really enjoying the interactions between the detectives of THE FUSE. They complete each other's sentences one moment, and jab at each other with silly nicknames and jokes about snacks the next. It feels natural; they're coworkers, and they're human, and a little bit of humor seems like a totally realistic tension-breaker in their line of work.
On the favorite-details list: the location captions in the gutters. They look so sharp, and don't distract from panels.
We're getting a lot of twists thrown in -- secret relationships, lookalikes, evidence that the murders aren't what they seem -- and some of it feels like it's showing up a little fast. I like the drama, but wouldn't mind getting the reveals a bit more deliberately (and enjoying more of Klem' and Ralph's detective banter!).
THE FUSE blends sci-fi and crime -- two very hot genres amongst the Image set right now -- in a crisp, fast-paced read with surprises at every turn. It's not quite hardboiled, but it doesn't need to be; the characters of THE FUSE make the world an interesting place, even without an extra dose of grit. Natural-sounding dialogue and a kicked-up crime story keep things engaging, and keep us guessing who's behind the murders.