I shouldn’t have borrowed this book. It’s not really my cup of tea. To be honest, I had my doubts when reading the blurb – a private eye story in a dystopian science fiction universe. I’m into crime fiction, but don’t really “do” sci-fi. But I thought I would give it ago, as the story appeared compelling.
Detective Sebastian Kessler lives in Dis, a sprawling urban nightmare run by corporations and choking on foul, polluted air. He takes synthetic drugs, is addicted to them. One day a case comes his way, a waif of a woman walks into his tip of an office begging for help. She’s the daughter of a priest who appears to have been brutally murdered. Or perhaps he overdosed on a new lethal drug doing the rounds. So far so very Chandleresque and there is much in this tale that is inspired by the PI novels of old.
So I borrowed this book hoping that the detective bit would outweigh the sci-fi bit. I like dystopian fiction, but I like mine more like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I had real trepidation about the sci-fi. Unfortunately for me, my worries proved founded. The book is very sci-fi and I struggled with that. I found it difficult to imagine the world of Dis that the author set out, to picture it in my mind. This got in the way of the reading experience for me and I never felt compelled to pick up the book, never found it a page-turner. Until the end when to my surprise a supernatural element was introduced.
But having said all that, I accept that much of my problems with the book came from my own mind. Perhaps I lack the imagination of those who read sci-fi? Perhaps my desire to read tales grounded in a more recognisable world is a fault of my own? And City of Darkness is a well-written tale. So I’m going to give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because while I might not have enjoyed it myself, I’m sure those more interested in sci-fi will.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars