The Night Mayor by Kim Newman (book review).
‘The Night Mayor’ is a novel that has been re-released with some additional content. It has four bonus original stories that also take place in the carefully constructed film noir universe that forms the basis of this novel.
We all love movies but what if you could Dream the scenario and make your own story? It’s not all good. You might not end up as the main hero or the villain. You might be the character actor who is disposable and never makes the final reel. You might only have a walk-on part. You could be the villain or the patsy. You might get framed for murder. You might die in your Dream.
It’s a good career creating these Dreams and there are different genres that inform the scenarios. Tom Tunney is a Dreamer of cheap pulp fiction and he has been dropped into the big city scenario to track down the Night Mayor who has taken over and is now shaping the Dream his way. But the Mayor is one step ahead of him. Tom needs some help before he sinks without trace into his nightmare and so enter the dame. Susan Bishopric is a romance author offered the assignment with no real chance of saying no by an authority that, although barely mentioned, seems to put the capital A into Authority.
The pair are both in deep trouble because the Night Mayor is a notorious criminal called Truro Daine, who has dreamed his own little fiefdom and is reluctant to let go of all that power.
If you are a fan of film noir then you will have extra fun when the 1940s Hollywood actors are name checked as they appear as a collection of character types that inform what happens in this extra–reel movie.
It’s great entertainment and Newman has a feel for the B movie background that really comes through. The fact that it is always 2.30 in the morning, the drink and the drugs really don’t work and, oh yes, its always raining. Cars speed chased by the cops and sirens constantly howl. Peter Lorre sleazes in the background. Sometimes they don’t have to walk anywhere but simply fade out like the movies. The plot is futuristic but old-fashioned as it uses the City and its inhabitants to form part of a bigger picture.
‘The Night Mayor’ feels refreshing and different with the end coming too soon and the potential of the scenario offering new ideas and future possibilities. The four stories flesh out the ideas a little but if feels like there could be at least another novel. If you caught the briefly aired ‘Battlestar: Galactica’ prequel: ‘Caprica’, then you know what I’m talking about. This novel precedes ‘Caprica’ and, indeed, shows a lot more invention and a tongue-in-cheek attitude which leavens the plot. The idea that the scenario is governed by a force that is all pervading echoes not only the idea of the author’s supposed omniscience but also the paranoia and genius of Phil K Dick’s works.
Kim Newman demonstrates it is possible to come up with different and inventive fiction. This was his first published novel and I can’t believe I’m only just reading it. Thanks to Titan Books and their re-issue of Newman’s novels with additional content and superb new artwork on the covers we can all catch up.
(pub: Titan Books. 264 page reissue with extra content small enlarged paperback: Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78116-566-9)
check out website: www.titanbooks.com