Shovel Ready

I Don't Want To Know Your Reasons. I Don't Care. Think Of Me More Like A Bullet. Just Point.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

For more on the novel visit the Shovel Ready website.


To buy Shovel Ready:

Praise for "Shovel Ready"

“A terrific debut. It has the grimy neon feel of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan combined with a touch of Philip K. Dick’s gonzo cyberpunk.”

Austin Grossman, Author of You and Soon I Will Be Invincible

“Shovel Ready tosses you off a precipice and you don’t know where you’re going to land. Dark and often funny, with sparse, sharp language, think Charlie Huston’s dystopian New York meets Richard Stark’s antihero. This is good, bitter fun.”

Toby Barlow, Author of Sharp Teeth and Babayaga

“With prose chiseled to hard-boiled perfection and a tale that throbs with the keen ache of noir, Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready reads like William Gibson as directed with inky brilliance by Christopher Nolan. Debut novels as sleek, resonant, and accomplished as this are a rare gift.”

Megan Abbott, Author of Dare Me

“Compulsive! Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit.”

Nick Harkaway, Author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker

“Hard-boiled as f *@, with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper cut.”

Lauren Beukes, Author of The Shining Girls

"The best kind of hardboiled noir."


“Spademan is an unlikely yet tragic hero, and it takes a talented author to make a reader root for such a damaged and ruthless man. . . . This is a gripping genre mash-up and a stunning debut.”

Library Journal

“Stunning narrative sleight-of-hand. . . . Characters [with] humor and a resilient humanity. . . . Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about over the next few months.”


“Buy it.”

New York magazine



I write for New York magazine and am the former culture editor of The New York Times Magazine. My first novel, “Shovel Ready,” is a future-noir thriller about a garbageman-turned-hitman set in a dystopian New York City. For many years I was the co-editor of the satirical celebrity website Fametracker. Raised in Toronto, I now live in Brooklyn, where I’m currently at work on a second Spademan novel, "Near Enemy," which is coming out in January, 2015.


I’ve written many articles for all sorts of places. Here are five i particularly liked:

The What You Are Afraid Of

A popular message board, an anonymous online bogeyman, and the fight for the soul of Brooklyn.

Read article

The Spreadsheet Psychic

A profile of Nate Silver from late 2008, when he was busy calling the 2008 election and just beginning to become Nate Silver.

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Up With Grups

Forty-year-old Men and Women in Sneakers and Hoodies and Baby Bjorns, or: Whatever Happened to Growing Up?

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How the American Action Movie Went Kablooey

“Then all of a sudden, America forgot how to make action movies.”

Bonus: This fantastically awesome fan-made trailer for “The Expendables 2” by Garrison Dean. Watch it and you’ll know why.

Read article

On the Enduring Appeal of "Die Hard"

I’m embarrassed to admit — though probably not nearly as embarrassed as I should be — that I’ve spent more time watching, contemplating and analyzing John McClane than I have, say, Hamlet.

Read article

The Reading List

A Rolling Tally of Recent Books I’ve Loved That I Think You Will Also Like


September 9, 2014

A spanking new cover for the SHOVEL READY paperback

As much as I love the skull-shovel cover for the SHOVEL READY hardcover, I am very much in love with…

September 9, 2014

Calgary Wordfest

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the weekend of October 17-19, I’ll be at three separate (very fun sounding) panels at Wordfest in Calgary,…