You've got to love a book that starts with a genuine bang.
Better Than Real is a near-future SF action-adventure. Its main protagonist, Lee, designs sex androids for Zendyne Corp., which apparently has a monopoly on that sort of product. Thing is, its androids aren't supposed to object to what their owners demand of them. Lilith, the android that committed the murder described above, clearly objected most strenuously, though we're not told exactly what elicited her homicidal response.
Lilith, you see, is an escaped artificial intelligence created by a shadowy force that calls itself Electis. She was intended for assassination duties, which she found repugnant. Electis wants its property back...but Lilith would rather stay free, and with Lee. The central plot thread concerns Lee, Lilith, and Sooz, a ragamuffin teen child of a single mother who makes her living selling illegal drugs, as they twist and turn to evade Electis's agents. One of those agents, Stranger, has been enhanced well beyond the abilities of common humanity...but then, Lilith, in her Artemis 7300 android host body, has a few extra abilities of her own.
A book such as Better Than Real necessarily involves willing suspension of disbelief of its SF elements: artificial intelligence on a human scale, androids that can't be told visually or tactilely from human beings, mind archiving and "downloads," routine cloning, monomolecular blades, nanotech, et alii. But Thomas's slam-bang pace and the intense coloration he gives his Marquee characters are more than adequate reason, especially since he creates a coherent setting into which to embed those elements.
Better Than Real is written in a traditional narrative style, minimally decorated and utterly free of technical and mechanical flaws. It's a polished, highly entertaining work by a writer I'm happy to have encountered. I hope he has more books of this quality to bestow upon us.
Theme: You can't create humanlike sentience without giving it freedom. I concur: A+
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)