I say "unusual" above because, while still holding to Asher's trademark fast-paced and violent conventions, this novel is rather more literary than usual. The present and past sections are interlaced with some skill, and are wrapped around a central mystery that's far more human than anything Asher's tried before. Ordinarily, I'd expect his slippery telling to obscure some super-weapon or some dull, if plot-relevant, secret. But, no, it's actually quite interesting for once. And the scorpion, the drone Amistad, is given motivations that extend far beyond use as a powerful and intelligent weapon.
All that said, this is still not Iain M. Banks (cf. his memory-based classic), and Asher's writing and characters are still largely in service to an action-filled plot. For one, the timing and content of Cormac's recollections are more straightforwardly in service of driving the mystery than a more skilled writer might have used them for. And I might just be overemphasising its better elements because it ends on them, but it is pleasing to read something in which Asher has invested a little more thought. Maybe he still has tricks up his sleeve after all?