Friday, July 15, 2011

Review of Low Town by Daniel Polansky

Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.
In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its cham­pion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens.

The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his dis­covery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . set­ting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House—the secret police—he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn’t get investi­gated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psy­chotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines. In Low Town, no one can be trusted.

Daniel Polansky has crafted a thrilling novel steeped in noir sensibilities and relentless action, and set in an original world of stunning imagination, leading to a gut-wrenching, unforeseeable conclusion. Low Town is an attention-grabbing debut that will leave readers riveted . . . and hun­gry for more.
 Extra props to the good people at Double Day Publishing for sending me an early arc of this upcoming novel to be published August 16th. After reading the premise of this one on another bloggers site, I was enticed by the brief but descriptive look into the workings of this city and the man who I would be following. That first sentence was what hooked me actually, "Drug dealers, hustlers, brothels, dirty politics, corrupt cops . . . and sorcery. Welcome to Low Town.". If ever givin' the chance to meet the author I invision some cheap version of that scene in Jerry McGuire with the coined phrase changed to something like, "You had me at drug dealers and magic." With such a vivid attention to the detail of the city that this novel takes place, it was just really easy to hop from scene to scene and put it together in my head. This one crosses a bunch of different genre boundaries but did it in a real fluid way and that will appeal to someone looking for something new and different. I guess what appealed to me the most was the noir, pulp fiction, crime sort of feel to it. I have been a huge fan of both Sin City (Frank Miller) If you haven't already done so... Read immediately and The WHOLE of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher that just keep getting better and this one falls in there somewhere. In my humble opinion the writing of Low Town stands out just as well as those and more. It was a real effort on my part not to devour this one in one sitting. If I can add one thing I didn't like, it's that the pacing of the overall novel felt great and kept me turning the pages. Then I got to the end and it just felt like it came together too fast, then ended.

The man, AKA The Warden, did not let me down. I really got into the whole "Anti-hero" thing on this one. And the author did a great job setting this up throughout the whole novel. Feeding readers pieces of his past that make you think, this guy has just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. And more over the sense that the government, city and people he grew into protecting and fighting for would no doubt roll him over and stick it to him the first chance they got. And they did. This is a guy that was a war vet and a die-hard type police investigator that just got fed up with the bureaucratic bullshit and decided that he could make a better living on and doing things his way. On his own for about five years, peddling Pixies Breath (a designer drug with a name alone that would probably have me trying some) and dreamvine a free based drug that sounds like when freebased would give aurora borealis a run for best smoke and light show. Having done this business for a while you know our Warden knows the city and it's inhabitants pretty well like the back of his hand actually. Not to mention this is where he grew up, on the streets, fending for himself, doing what he had to to survive. The one thing that I really like and stuck out to me on several occasions is that our main character, although turned to a life of crime and drug addled the for the better part of the novel, was an extremely intelligent individual. I guess I can say that went a long way for me to like his character and give people something to think about when they see people on the street and decide they have them pegged for who they really are just by a quick glance.

Along with the Warden, we get to look at a slew of other characters that help bring this whole thing into fruition better than your Grandma's stew. Amoung my favorites would be Ling Chi, Mesieke, and the Madam Dark Eyes. The dialogue between the characters is full of wit and banter that I just can't get enough of and at times, I could even call it flawless. Especially, conversations between Ling Chi and the Warden. For some reason this type of refined speech has always made me giddy and excited for more. Can people actually learn to talk like that and have extended conversations? If so, I need to find someone willing to take me on as an apprentice!

Understanding fully that this review is FULL of holes, I really do hope that I have peaked someones interest in picking this one up when it comes out. It has a lot to offer with fresh ideas and great characters. I am fairly certain that we have not seen the last of Daniel Polansky and his cast of Low Town and I for one am eagerly awaiting what is in store next. Thanks Daniel for a great story that kept me guessing up to the very end.


Song I thought about for in my review...

1 comment:

  1. Just finished this one yesterday and I gotta say I could not stop thinking about Sin City either! lol The refined speech was indeed flawless.