Have just finished Leviathan Wakes, a Hugo award nominee for 2011. It's the first in a series, and pretty slick. George R. R. Martin endorses it as "old-fashioned kickass space opera", and I guess I'll agree with that.
The story starts out set in a reasonably plausible future--mankind has discovered a cheap fusion drive that lets us get access to the planets and expand settlement there. We've got asteroids that have been hollowed out and spun for gravity, and lots of mining activity. Into this space comes the stretch part--a "protovirus" that seems to be trying to restructure whatever life it encounters. The struggles with and over this life form are set in a backdrop of political strife between Earth, Mars, and the Belt (everyone else). We have a hard-boiled detective, an idealistic captain, and various other characters to root for. Lots of good action and some nasty horror scenes. The book is long enough to be satisfying without bogging down. Is there anything surprising in a literary sense, or do we go somewhere we haven't before? Not at all. That's kind of the point here. This is pure entertainment, and it delivers in a very fine way, like a half a pizza or a 20 ounce beer. Good and plenty.
James S. A. Corey is a pen name. The book is actually a collaboration between Daniel Abraham and George R. R. Martin's assistant, Ty Franck. It's a fine blend, I've read plenty of Daniel Abraham and would not have guessed it was him. I give it a nice round 3 stars. I got it from our local library, and it's quite possible to finish it in the usual lending time. Have fun.