(2000) Eric Brown, Gollancz, £16.99, hdbk, pp261, ISBN 0-575-068728
(pbk price £5.99 or Can $9.99)
Set in near future (2040) New York, two private detectives - Hal Halliday and Barney Kluger - specialise in missing persons. Then they are asked to find a missing computer technician called Sissi Nigeria. The firm employing Sissi specialises in virtual reality and initially thinks its a industrial espionage. Sissi after all has a rare and specialised cranial neural link and memory bank implant and so is the perfect vehicle to carry information. However, something else is going on and Hal and Barney are right in the middle of it...
This being a detective story (as well as an SF tale) it is important not to unravel much of the plot. However you can be assured that Eric Brown works in SF effectively and this detective tale works. You get carried along and the page turning almost becomes compulsive. The near future technology - the holographic facades to buildings and computer enhanced cctv - blend almost seamlessly with existing cutting edge technology to produce a convincing future. And though there is nothing new in the SF concepts Brown uses nor in the detective story ploys so Brown is unlikely to win any awards. Nonetheless Brown's writing entertains and there are enough options to keep one sufficiently guessing for over half the book and then there is more than sufficient momentum for the action to carry you along to the end. In short Brown delivers the goods with a little spare change and that is what counts.
It has to be said that New York Nights is part of the 'Virex' trilogy. I do not know whether it is because it is the first part or whether it is inherent in the trilogy's style, but this works as a stand-alone novel. It is a rollicking good and satisfying read.
New York Blues is the second volume of the trilogy. If you like SF detective yarns keep an eye out for this. I certainly will.
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