Noir meets Superman

Empire State, by Adam Christopher, Angry Robot, RRP£7.99, 445 pages

Superheroes, private eyes, alternate realities, robots – debut novelist Adam Christopher throws them all into the bucket and gives it a damn good stir, with electrifying results.

Rad Bradley is a down-at-heel private detective in the Empire State, a city that resembles Prohibition-era New York but with a few essential differences. Police airships hover overhead, and the economy is ground down by a constant war that is being waged against an unknown, unseen enemy.

Bradley is hired to investigate the disappearance of a woman, which leads him, as such investigations are wont, into deep, murky waters. The solution to the mystery ties in to the very reason for the Empire State’s existence and also to its possible destruction.

Suffused with a love for noir fiction and the golden age of American comic books, Christopher’s Empire State is something of a tour de force. If, somehow, Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick had collaborated on a Superman story, they might well have produced this novel.

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