cover image Low Town

Low Town

Daniel Polansky. Doubleday, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-385-53446-8

Polansky hits all the right notes in his intelligent first novel, a blend of dystopian fantasy and hard-boiled crime. Rigus, one of the cities of the Thirteen Lands, is slowly rebuilding after war and plague have decimated the area's population. Fate has reduced the man known as the Warden, a former investigator for Black House, the Crown's secret police, to dealing pixie's breath and other narcotics. He lives on the edge of imminent demise, in conflict with other dealers and pursued by the law. When the Warden discovers a murdered child in the alley of a squalid Rigus slum called Low Town, he must rely on his old expertise to find the girl's killer. After a second and third child are slain, he realizes that it will take all of his guile and skill to survive the investigation, let alone discover what just might be an otherworldly predator at work. Sharp, noir-tinged dialogue and astute insights into class struggle mark Polansky as a writer with a future. (Aug.)