by Tim Waggoner
Review by Liz de Jager
Angry Robot Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780007323869
Date: 06 August 2009 List Price £7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
See! I told you all that zombies were the next big thing! Didn't I? Well, they are... and the second Angry Robot release of the month (last month to be pedantic) proves it!
Tim Waggoner brings us a Zombie detective novel in the form of Nekropolis, described by the publisher thus... "Pulp and proud, cracking wise like we just dug up the rotting corpse of Dashiell Hammett and put him back to work at his typewriter, Nekropolis is just the first of a trio of fabulous urban fantasies Angry Robot will be bringing you from the mighty Tim Waggoner. Originally published as a limited run novella, the expanded Nekropolis is the definitive version of this massively entertaining series opener"
Check this excellent book trailer for more info.
Reviewed this issue by Liz de Jager.
Fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, fans of noir detective stories and fans of the just plain weird, rejoice! Tim Waggoner has offered up Nekropolis for your delectation.
In Matt Richter we have a very likeable, reasonable and amusing protagonist. With only a limited time to live as his zombie body is no longer reacting very well to magics to keep it "alive", Matt decides to take on one more case which may very well be the end of him before, well, the end of him.
Matt teams up with Devona, a half-breed human/vampire to find an ancient artefact known as the Dawnstone before it can be used to destroy all of Nekropolis. So far, so simple, you may be inclined to think, only to realise that Nekropolis is unlike any other place you have ever dreamed of. A nightmarish place inhabited by creatures so odd and bizarre, you may think you've walked into The Calmun's Cantina on Tatooine--only, not as nice.
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner is a feverdream and it is testament to the author's writing skills that you never toss the book aside in disbelief. The world creation is of a very high calibre, bearing in mind that it is not a thick volume allowing for a lot of exposition. Everything has its place and to be fair, the archetypes he brings out to play in the novel are very well portrayed. The story spins along at a rapid pace--it is not for the fainthearted and you have to make sure you keep up.
The main character of Matt Richter carries the story to the very end--you are reminded of his undead zombie status often; he points out that he doesn't feel physical pain but he never uses that in a way to gross out the reader or to stupidly enter into fights he knows he can't win. He is an intelligent ex-cop who happened into the Nekropolis through a portal with his partner a few years ago--something went awry and instead of Matt dying at the same time, he became a self-willed zombie. The search for the Dawnstone is the main plot in the novel but as the story progresses you find yourself relishing in the small sub-plots and the asides as Matt's character and status in the city is revealed through various encounters along the way.
Nekroplis is a surprisingly quick read and something to pick up if you are in the mood for something different and fun. The weirdness does not leave you alienated (sic) and the world building is of a very high quality. It is Sam Spade done for a new future generation interested in something the same, but with a very different slant, making effective use of supernaturals in a dark city inhabited by beings and creatures that are as likely to eat you as to help you. This is the first novel of a three book series and if this lays the ground-work, we can be assured of a wild ride through the next two!