Depth by Lev AC Rosen (book review).

June 24, 2015 | By | Reply More

There seems to be a trend for near-future SF thrillers set in a post-global warming, flooded Earth, as witness my recent review for ‘Arctic Rising’ by Tobias S. Buckell and its sequel, ‘Hurricane Fever’. ‘Depth’ is a whodunit, pure and simple, featuring a female private eye, Simone Pierce; but the science fictional background is essential to make the whole story work. No specific date seems to be given, but it takes place about a hundred years in the future, in which the New York skyscrapers are submerged to an average depth of 21 floors. Rosen is himself a native New Yorker and it shows. His future New York is an independent state, abiding by its own fairly liberal rules and laws, while mainland USA is controlled by oppressive laws imposed by religious conservatives. For instance, women are not allowed to wear trousers!

Depth

In New York, smoking seems to be common, which surprised me as I had hoped that by then it would have become extinct and there is also no mention of ‘vaping’ or e-cigarettes, which one might have expected to take over. But in any case, here they usually contain a substitute, while ‘real’ tobacco is only an expensive import from the mainland. Drugs seem to be freely available, the favourite being Foam, its users being known as MouthFoamers because of the white rim it leaves around the mouths of addicts. This features more strongly late in the story.

Simone is the daughter of a disgraced cop, but she has built up a good reputation and, as the novel start, she is contacted by two new clients. One is a wealthy woman, Ms. St. Michel who asks to be called Linnea, who has hired Simone to keep tabs on her husband, Henry, whom she suspects of having an affair. Shortly afterwards, he turns up dead, so this turns into a murder investigation. The other is Alejandro deCostas, a ‘pearl diver’, a young man with a university grant who wants to investigate the lower levels of some submerged skyscrapers hoping to find one whose lower levels are still accessible. Simone finds him sexy but thinks he may have a hidden agenda. This leads to rumours of an abandoned tunnel system leading out of the city, which in turn sparks off a hunt by those hoping to cash in on their discovery if it happens. However, much more depends upon the result of the investigation, as she finds out much later in the book, and, indeed, the fate of the whole USA may depend upon it…

Three other main characters are Caroline Khan, deputy mayor and Simone’s best friend; a gay ‘psychic’ called The Great Yanai but known to Simone as Danny and Peter, a policeman with NYPD, now based on a decommissioned Navy cruiser called Theodore Roosevelt, with whom Simone has a romantic history. There is also a mysterious, beautiful woman known throughout most of the book merely as ‘The Blonde’. Simone’s life quickly becomes more complicated and uncomfortable and the city she loves becomes frightening and dangerous and maybe even lethal.

The story is believable and fast-moving, with tight prose and dialogue. You may expect that the author would use this novel as a vehicle to proselytise on climate change and global warming, but this is implicit throughout, without the need to hammer the message home. No doubt this book also contains deep meaningful metaphors on the depths (yes!) of the human psyche and so forth but, read purely as a detective story, it is gripping and enjoyable. Recommended.

David A. Hardy

June 2015

(pub: Titan Books. 290 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78329-863-1)

check out website: www.titanbooks.com

Tags: ,

Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

avatar

About the Author ()

David A. Hardy, FBIS, FIAAA is the longest-established living space artist in the West, being first published in 1952. From working almost exclusively in water colours and gouache he has gone on to embrace acrylics, oils, pastels and, since 1991, digital art on a Mac. For more art, including prints of this and other works, visit http://www.astroart.org, where you can find many links, tutorials, books and prints and originals for sale. Dave is Vice President of the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA) and European VP of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), and has an asteroid named after him! His SF novel 'Aurora' is now available in a revised and updated edition on Amazon etc. See a review of this and an interview with Pauline Morgan (November 2012) here: http://sfcrowsnest.info/?s=hardy

Leave a Reply

SFcrowsnest

Enjoy scifi? Please spread the word :)