What is this about?: Carter is a cop in Titanshade, a town that is slowly dying bc its oil boom is over. When a politician is killed – a Squib – politics, money and more diplomats come into play making a murder so much more complex.
What else is this about?: Titanshade is the first book in this genre that I’ve read in a long time — and by that I mean sci-fi.
This noir fantasy thriller from a debut author introduces the gritty town of Titanshade, where danger lurks around every corner.
“Take a little Mickey Spillane, some Dashiell Hammet, a bit of Raymond Chandler, and mix it with Phillip K. Dick’s Blade Runner; add a taste of CJ Box, and Craig Johnson, and you’ve got a masterpiece of a first novel.” –W. Michael Gear, New York Times bestselling author
Carter’s a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It’s also a metropolis teetering on the edge of disaster. As its oil reserves run dry, the city’s future hangs on a possible investment from the reclusive amphibians known as Squibs.
But now negotiations have been derailed by the horrific murder of a Squib diplomat. The pressure’s never been higher to make a quick arrest, even as Carter’s investigation leads him into conflict with the city’s elite. Undermined by corrupt coworkers and falsified evidence, and with a suspect list that includes power-hungry politicians, oil magnates, and mad scientists, Carter must find the killer before the investigation turns into a witch-hunt and those closest to him pay the ultimate price on the filthy streets of Titanshade.
Everything about TitanShade is epic. And intimate too. I know I’m weird — bear with me.
The worldbuilding, the characterisation and did I mention the worldbuilding?
Everything about this world is accessible, which was a huge plus for me. Carter has just lost a woman he loved — very much — no matter the circumstances of their ending. He is put onto the case of a murdered diplomat, a Squib, along with a new partner, Jax, and so begins our introduction to this world.
This is where the accessibility comes into play — the worldbuilding is fascinating but Stout balances it well with characterisation and the mystery at the heart of this story. It let’s readers get to know Carter as much as the world, and his place in this world because his story comes with heartbreak and angst, and a whole lot of regret.
The case is about the town itself at it’s heart — it’s about a struggle for power and money, and everything that makes Titanshade go round. A diplomat is killed, and that murder sets Carter on a path to find the killer before someone close to him gets arrested.
That comes with double crosses, getting framed and even poisoning, before Carter realises just how big the case actually is. That said, those sorts of implications never take away from the characterisation and the relationships Stout creates.
I have to mention the pacing — it’s always been make or break for me, but Titanshade is one of those books that left me feeling like I only took a breath at the end.
Characterisation, pacing and Titanshade — this is a book that balances all these elements so well, I didn’t feel the 400-odd pages at all.