Review: Empire State

By Adam Christopher

Angry Robot, out now

It’s year 19 in the Empire State, and hardboiled private detective Rad is on the trail of a missing person…

Adam Christopher’s debut novel Empire State is very hard to describe without giving away many of the important plot reveals that the author doles out sparingly throughout the novel. Suffice it to say that if you go straight back and re-read the first few chapters after finishing the book, you get a whole new perspective on what’s happening, but not in such a way that you feel cheated that you didn’t have the information in the first place. (Think watching The Sixth Sense a second time once you know the secret of that.)

Christopher plays with the conventions of the noir genre, in particular its clever use of descriptive prose: there are certain similarities between elements of the story that might have been much clearer earlier if written conventionally, but which you don’t necessarily want to know straightaway (It brings to mind the 1947 noir thriller movie Lady in the Lake, shot from the private detective’s point of view, so the audience literally only sees what the protagonist does.)

Add in superheroic battles, quantum physics, cyborg soldiers, and a ticking clock counting down the characters’ very existence, and you’ve got yet another book from Angry Robot that will keep you enthralled.

Verdict: The first in what will hopefully a number of visits to the Empire State. Recommended.  8/10

Paul Simpson

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