This is what a Shadowrun novel should be like.
Shaken tells a story in the life of PI/vigilante/runner Jimmy Kinkaid, a near-burnout street mage with an attitude, the mentor to match, and the hots for his ally spirit. This alone all but guarantees I like this book. But it's narrated interestingly, the protagonist is appropriately biased, the book does give him is share of sucker-punches - and I really like the narrative flow, even if it may seem a little slow to some. It's not Michael Bay, it's Fargo. It's a voyage through the decrepit, broken world of Jimmy Kinkaid and damn, it's a nice ride.
The best part about this novel - and I'm saying this on top of excellent immersion, well-written characters, and similar world-building - is the fact it is very Noir, very hard-boiled, without neglecting typical tropes and elements of cyberpunk in general and Shadowrun in particular. Jimmy Kincaid is the archetypical Noir protagonist - an anti-hero, a broken, damaged man, struggling as best as he can to stem both the darkness of the world around and the darkness within himself. It also has a detective story, well-executed twists and turns, and a well fleshed out world that is a protagonist in itself (I'm such a sucker for off-hand brand drops), it has an unreachable femme fatale (with a twist that resonates popular fandom jokes without being obnoxious about it - a feat to pull off in itself), well-scaled action scenes and a resolution that, while satisfying for the reader, may not entirely be for the protagonist. Classic.
Now, I've always felt Cyberpunk was more Noir in the digital age than Science Fiction. In Cyberpunk, for all that technology and exotic-hypermodern surface gloss, the heart of the story is deeply human - it's about alienation, about handling the invasion of life by technology, about losing one's self by replacing oneself with technology. It's made of tales of the human condition, much more in the tradition of American Gothic (which largely shares Cyberpunk's neophobia) and Romantic literature than classic Science Fiction with it's libertarian, modernist technophilia that sees technology as the salvation of mankind (Transhumanism would fit the same technological niche Cyberpunk occupies with a more traditional Science Fiction narrative). With its heavily Noir attitude, using most, if not all, classic tropes, and its adherence to classic Noir tales, Shaken (no Job too small) is all I could have asked from a Shadowrun novel, and much more - it could (and would deserve to) stand on its own as a work in Cyberpunk, rather than be considered 'just' a francise book. It's made of the best the world of Shadowrun has to offer, in a way that hasn't been around since the passing of Nigel Findley (in the same way Harebrained Schemes' writing does when at the top of their game).
A great one. If you want to buy any Shadowrun novel to get into this rich and weird world, make it this one.
[5 of 5 Stars!]