Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Book Review: LOW TOWN by Daniel Polansky
*****Review by Guest Contributor, Angie Lee*****
LOW TOWN by Daniel Polansky was not what I was expecting and that is a good thing. When the author was compared to Quentin Tarantino in a press release I was leery, especially since I’m a fan of Tarantino… in small doses. Polansky does an incredible job of crafting a great yarn and while the setting and subject matter is dark, the story is lightened by sarcastic dialogue from the protagonist. Here is the basic plot synopsis of the book courtesy of the book's official website:
Rigus is the greatest city in the Thirteen Lands, a glittering metropolis of crystalline citadels and sumptuous manors, where gentlewomen hide delicate smiles behind silken sleeves and bored nobles settle affairs of honor with cold steel. But light casts shadow, and in the darkness of the spires the baseborn struggle, eking out an existence amidst the cast-offs of their betters. This is Low Town, a sprawling warren of side streets and back alleys, of boarded up windows and false storefronts. Here the corner boys do a steady trade to the dead eyed and despairing, and a life can be bought with a clipped copper penny.
Low Town is an ugly place, and its champion is an ugly man. A former war hero and intelligence agent, now a crime lord addicted to cheap violence and expensive narcotics, the Warden spends his days hustling for customers and protecting his turf, until the chance discovery of a murdered child sets him on a collision course with the life he'd left behind. As bodies bloat in the canal and winter buries the city, he plays a desperate game of deception, pitting the underworld powers against his former colleagues in the secret police, hoping to find the source of the evil before it consumes him, and perhaps the city itself.
After an initial slow start, LOW TOWN picks up the pace and it’s obvious that Polansky finds the rhythm of his novel. The main character and narrator, Warden, isn’t just a stereotypical anti-hero. He becomes complex, especially when it’s accurately portrayed that Warden shouldn’t even be likable. As the local known drug dealer in Low Town, there shouldn’t be a lot to say for him. What makes the character work is how well he fits into his environment; Low Town is a section of a city where those in power would rather forget that it even exists. Because of that, the residents of Low Town have their own code of ethics and their own way of handling things. The people eke out a meager living barely having enough to live on and those that reside in Low Town have lived through tough times. Warden has grown up there and comes back after losing his job and his expectations are nothing more than surviving another day. He’s a realistic character and when he gets involved in a case involving the disappearing children of Low Town, he realizes he is one of the few with the resource to figure out what is going on.
Not to give the plot away, but there is definitely something that slithers around and goes bump in the night rampaging through Low Town, a force that Warden has seen once before and has plagued him with nightmares ever since. It’s a dark and creepy presence and is the grotesque horror aspect in the novel. LOW TOWN is a mix of detective story, with a little bit of fantasy thrown in and the macabre atmospheric tension of a great horror movie. I get the distinct impression by the set up that this won’t be the last readers have heard from Warden, and that he’ll show up in a sequel in the near future.
CLICK HERE to visit the book's official website
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