cover image Sunset, Water City

Sunset, Water City

Chris McKinney. Soho Crime, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-64129-513-0

McKinney nails the landing in the wrenching conclusion to his 22nd-century sci-fi noir trilogy (following Eventide, Water City). Environmental disasters, including recently discovered space hurricanes (“giant swirling masses of plasma that rain electrons”), have radically altered life on Earth, with many people moving to supposedly safer underwater cities. The action picks up 10 years after scientist Akira Kimura, once considered a savior for averting Earth’s collision with an asteroid, utilized advanced technology to wipe out most of the planet’s population and control the minds of the survivors, hoping her zombified devotees would help her build a better world. Her dominance of the planet is opposed, despite daunting odds, by the unnamed series lead, an ex-cop and former PI, now joined by his 19-year-old daughter, Ascalon (named after Akira’s own daughter, Ascalon Lee). The pair plan to recruit Lee for their cause but remain unsure whether the woman, who previously attempted to kill her mother, can be trusted in the struggle. After a major second-act twist, the novel’s perspective shifts, and McKinney folds in a good old-fashioned murder mystery that appears tied to Akira’s machinations. As in prior entries, McKinney’s worldbuilding is top-notch, and he successfully launches more rattling­—and gratifying­­—surprises than most would expect from a series finale. This brings a superior series to a sharp, startling conclusion. (Dec.)