01/06/2012. Contributed by Vinca Russell
pub. Angry Robot. 445 page paperback. Price £7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85766-192-0.
check out websites: www.angryrobotbooks.com and www.adamchristopher.co.uk
'This is the Empire State and the Empire State is all.' Well, that's what private detective Rad Bradley believes when he takes a case looking for a missing woman in Adam Christopher's debut novel, 'Empire State'. Soon, however, it becomes clear that not all is as it seems in the Empire State. When gas-masked goons attack him in an alley and he is rescued by a super-hero who has just been executed in the state prison, Rad knows there's something really peculiar going on. In fact, the further into his investigation Rad gets, the more questions he realises are missing answers. What is beyond the fog? Who are the Enemy? How can people disappear into thin air? Hopefully, hotshot reporter Kane and his enigmatic friend, Captain Carson, can help Rad shed some light on things, but it's a race against time and the fates of two worlds hang in the balance.
An interesting take on the parallel worlds idea, 'Empire State' sees the creation of an alternate prohibition-era Manhattan with a distinct noir feeling. Christopher creates a very believable city, with the ever-present fog and darkness adding to the air of menace and the differences between New York and the Empire State well explored.
A special mention also has to go to Will Staehle for the highly stylised cover art, with both font and graphics that perfectly capture the themes and settings of the novel. It's one of the best covers I've seen this year.
The book also includes an interview with the author (don't be tempted to read before you've finished the book as it contains some big spoilers), a playlist of music and an invitation to create works set within the 'Empire State' world as part of Angry Robot's new 'WorldBuilder' project at http://worldbuilderonline.com.
Incorporating classic detective fiction, a little steampunk, super-heroes and parallel worlds, this could easily have become over-complicated, but the different elements blended together well and the strong plot tied it all together neatly. With enough twists and turns to keep you engaged throughout this was an entertaining novel and a highly promising debut from Adam Christopher.
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