TSMG review by Gordon Highland

This is a really entertaining noir tale set in a near-future Melbourne: our only city left, post-apocalypse. Blade Runner meets The Third Man is an apt description.

Floyd, our hero, is a “seeker” who hunts down deviants and loves referencing old films (which receive their own appendix) — this is a very clever thing, setting a nostalgic character in the future, making his references more relatable to the reader. He’s burnt out on the job, alcoholic, and feels trapped because of his wife’s “medical” bills (she was tagged as a deviant). He becomes a reluctant media darling, and tries to get at the heart of the political corruption in his city.

I loved the book’s blend of Japanese and Australian culture. The setting is grounded in realism and doesn’t get too hung up on technology, more just like extrapolations of our current lives and social stratification. Cosmetic enhancements, advertising ubiquity, gentrification, high-end shopping communities, etc. There’s lots of Aussie and gumshoe slang, assisted by a glossary, which you may well not need, so natural is it.

The writing is very fluid, though it may seem a bit dense at first until you get your head wrapped around what all’s going on. Much of the book is dialogue, and I found some of it too direct in spots. Though this is also true of a lot of classic noir as well.

This is the July 2011 selection in the ChuckPalahniuk.net book club, and you’ll find more discussion there.

Gordon Highland

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