Thursday, June 30, 2011

The City & The City by China Mieville

From the publisher: When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

First line: I could not see the street or much of the estate.

My thoughts: Having read a couple of this author's books before, I thought I knew what I was getting into. Not so. Apparently this author's imagination knows no bounds, has no limits. This is essentially a great mystery, a gritty police procedural that will keep you guessing till the end. What makes it uniquely Mieville's is the setting. The two cities, sharing one space set in the present reality of our world was.......quite intriguing. The way the citizens lived, unseeing and unhearing the other city and its population was made real by the way it was written. I have seen the term "Weird Fiction" applied to Mieville's writing and that is perfect. It is weird. And it draws me in each time. Loved it. My only complaint would be that I would have liked to know Dhatt and Borlu better.

This novel won the World Fantasy Award for best novel, The Hugo Award for best novel, and The BSFA Award for best novel.

Rating: A

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