cover image Scorch City

Scorch City

Toby Ball.. St. Martin's, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-58083-4

Set in 1950 in the unrelentingly grim metropolis known only as the City, Ball's worthy follow-up to The Vaults presents Lt. Piet Westermann, an honest police officer, with an awkward moral choice. On the eve of a heated mayoral race with the challenger vowing to end the Communist threat, journalist Frank Frings persuades Westermann to move the body of a dead white woman, found late one night on a riverbank within the City's successful African-American Uhuru Community, and pretend to discover it elsewhere. If the truth got out, it would threaten the community's very existence. As the architect of the System, "a mathematical method for deploying police assets throughout the City," Westermann is already unpopular with many of his colleagues, and this action could make his position on the force even more tenuous than it already is. Ball deftly blends the corrupt politics of the City with Westermann's efforts to solve the murder and preserve his own secrets. (Sept.)