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THE EMPIRE STATE IS THE OTHER NEW YORK.
A parallel-universe, Prohibition-era world of mooks and shamuses that is the twisted magic mirror to our bustling Big Apple, a place where sinister characters lurk around every corner while the great superheroes that once kept the streets safe have fallen into dysfunctional rivalries and feuds.
Not that its colourful residents know anything about the real New York... until detective Rad Bradley makes a discovery that will change the lives of all its inhabitants.
Wow, I love a good noodle-bender of a plot... but this... this was a pretzel-machine! The plot twists and turns like a twisty-turny thing, sometimes heading off in one direct only to suddenly switch gears, and realities, and turn back upon itself like Orobouros. Just when you thought you had a grasp of who's who, you find you had it backwards the whole time.
Adam is an Aucklander, now resident in England, and there is a definite style here that can only be called "Kiwi Yarn" - it's an almost narrative style that somehow remains first-person... almost Bogart-era inner-monologue... I found it very fitting to the story, even if at times I lost my grip on the story. I could almost see the plot playing out in grainy, rain-soaked black and white film in my mind's eye. Actually, if you want to see the exact style I think would best suit a movie adaptation of this story... watch "Skycaptain and the World of Tomorrow" - the movie is a bit naff, but the style is bang on right for this gem.
Despite enjoying this immensely, I am reluctant to praise it too highly... it's going to be a very tight niche book. Only those comfortable with the mental gymnastics required to keep track of not one, not two, but FOUR separate timelines/realities will really find this book "enjoyable" - for those who prefer something a little less TARDIS-spaghetti like, this might be a little too overwhelming for you, I regret to say.
Overall, this is certainly worth trying, if you enjoy "strange and unusual" without falling over the line into "downright weird"... but before you buy your own copy, you might want to try out the first few chapters at your local library. If you make it to Chapter 12 (page 119 of 416) you'll be fine to plow on through to the end. There's even some "bonus extras" at the tail end that I haven't seen in any other book... I quite liked the additional information, author interview, "worldbuilder" data, etc. Great work, Angry Robot crew!
Random listing from 'Books'...
In early 2006, Chuck Ramkissoon is found dead at the bottom of a New York canal.
In London, a Dutch banker named Hans van den Broek hears the news, and remembers his unlikely friendship with Chuck and the off-kilter New York in which it flourished: the New York of 9/11, the powercut and the Iraq war. Those years were difficult for Hans - his English wife Rachel left with their son after the attack, as if that event ... more...
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