cover image Titanium Noir

Titanium Noir

Nick Harkaway. Knopf, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593535-36-3

Harkaway (Gnomon) pulls off an artful blend of science fiction and hard-boiled detective story in this excellent outing. In the near future, gene therapy has made a remarkable breakthrough: those able to afford an expensive procedure called Titanium 7 appear younger, gaining great height, strength, and longevity. Private eye Cal Sounder, who specializes in investigations involving these so-called “Titans,” is hired by his friend, homicide detective Giles Gratton, to consult on a tricky case. Roddy Tebbit, a 91-year-old Titan who looked half his age, has been shot execution-style in his apartment in a part of the city where a large number of the world’s 2,000 Titans live. Apart from his genetic enhancement, Tebbit led an unremarkable life, making it hard to identify a motive for his slaying. Despite their small numbers, Titans wield significant political power, so Sounder makes the case a priority. Soon, however, his investigation points to answers that may lie closer to home than he’d like. Harkaway’s superior worldbuilding makes it easy for readers to buy in to the conceit, which burnishes detective story clichés with sci-fi flair. It’s a wild ride. (May)