Genre: Mystery; Hardboiled; Scifi
“The streets of Red City are busy with people with nowhere to go. While The Legion of Twelve, the twelve major corporations in the city, managed to keep the significant effects of The Depression from entering Red City, joblessness and the dour faces of the hopeless line the streets. There’s nothing anyone can do for them, and they know it.”
Thomas Baxter is a drunk, a crumb, a dead hoofer, and one of the best damn flatfoots in Red City. With The Great Depression ravaging the city, he can’t afford to turn down a case.
When a murder case goes awry, Detective Thomas Baxter finds himself in a bind to uncover secrets that reach the heart of human existence and a mystery that consumes him to his very soul.
Quinn Buckland quickly became one of my favorite authors after reading his debut ‘Fallen Gods’ and subsequently, ‘The Engine What Runs The World.’ Needless to say, I was completely thrilled to be given the chance to read his latest novel ‘Dead Man Walking’ pre-release. I admit I’m a bit late on posting reviews, as the book has been out for a little while now, but here we go!
Just like with his other novels, Quinn has written ‘Dead Man Walking’ with a slight blending of genres. Admittedly, I’m always curious when picking up his latest to see what main genre/atmosphere he has decided to go with this time. I’m impressed with his ability to switch through numerous forms. Another thing this book has stuck true to what I love with the others is the immersion factor.
‘Dead Man Walking’ is set in what is presumably an alternate version of 1920’s Earth. The Great Depression is making survival difficult on everyone, including the main character: a private detective by the name of Thomas Baxter. The author pulls his audience into the setting with full use the era’s slang, culture, and even emotional struggles. He definitely nailed the hard-boiled atmosphere as I could easily envision a film adaptation as I read.
The story begins by establishing the detective’s (and some others’) character through a run-of-the-mill missing persons case that is brought to him. Despite the case being average, it was interesting, especially by means of getting to know the protagonist and the more important side characters. Once a police officer, Detective Baxter is now a cynical, depressed drunk whose only friends (or closest thing he can call such) are his secretary, a female sexual partner/club musician, and his brother who is a long-term patient at an insane asylum. That being said, we do see an occasional soft side to the man.
Regardless of consistently rubbing people the wrong way, it is not in question that Baxter is an expert in his field. A key detail of his character that I appreciate however, is that he is not portrayed as perfect even within his realm of expertise. There are a lot of characters, particularly within crime fiction, that have a personal life which is in shambles or nonexistent and yet when it comes to their work, they are flawless. Baxter is entirely imperfect just like real people and this certainly adds a lot of depth and realism of the atmosphere overall (in addition to cutting the predictability factor).
To be honest, there are a few seemingly cliche (for the genres) character types in the book. Nevertheless, the author has not only used a completely intriguing mystery to keep the story feeling fresh, but has managed to make most of these characters different enough in themselves. Just like the protagonist, they and their actions were believable.
It is directly after the detective’s celebration on closing that simple job that the story really picks up. At that point, the action, the revelations, and the turns are all non-stop. Terrifying coincidences? Evil twins? Conspiracy? Paranoid delusions? There are definitely plenty of twists. I couldn’t get enough of it!
Since I don’t give spoilers, mysteries are hard for me to review, but I think I’ve made my point. ‘Dead Man Walking’ is a must read if you are into mysteries, thrillers, or science fiction. Once set up, it keeps you theorizing and guessing at every moment. The more you know, the less you know, the faster you must turn the page.
((Reviews have been submitted to Amazon, Goodreads, and Books-a-Million))
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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