12) 9Tail Fox, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
I very much enjoyed Grimwood’s Ashraf Bey trilogy, though was a little less convinced by either his earlier redRobe or his more recent Stamping Butterflies. I’m glad to report (IMHO) a return to form. Like the Ashraf Bey trilogy this is essentially a police procedural in a somewhat alternative history version of a famous port city with distint sfnal overtones to do with technological brain enhancements. (So we have identified what he does well, then.)
This time the city is San Francisco, however, and the central character is killed on page 30 – only to wake up, like Corwin in Nine Princes in Amber, in a hospital in upstate New York; and he spends the rest of the book solving his own murder. The basic plot has of course been done before, but I love Grimwood’s intense and often sultry writing style; and here he successfully transfers it to a new setting, with memorable characters.
I still had a very slight feeling, after we found the solution to the mystery, that it might not hang together all that well if I inspected it too closely, but the ride was such good fun that I won’t look. I suspect this makes my Hugo shortlist, though am hoping also to read Air, Learning the World, and Never Let Me Go before the deadline. (Already on my list: A Feast For Crows, Anansi Boys, Counting Heads and probably Accelerando.)
A final point – I can’t help noting that this is the second book by JCG featuring a scene with teenagers meeting for the first time in business class on a long-distance flight and spending the journey making out. There is presumably a true story there, waiting to be retold.