Finch, by Jeff VanderMeer, Corvus Books RRP£12.99, 352 pages
The discovery of two bodies in a room propels detective John Finch on a journey – not only through his decaying hometown, Ambergris, but into his past. He was once part of a network of rebels bent on thwarting the rise of the “gray caps”, mushroom-like entities who now control the city. The solution to the crime could mean liberation from mildewy tyranny.
Finch is the third volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergris cycle, following on from City Of Saints And Madmen and Shriek: An Afterword. It’s easily the most accessible of the three novels, lacking the metatextual trickiness of the others and driven along by its murder-investigation plotline. It’s also, as we’ve come to expect from VanderMeer, brimful of extraordinary imagery. Terse, noirish prose punches up the paranoid mood. In this police-state parable, fungal growths and spores are used to subjugate and spy on people, and Finch’s pages exude an appropriately mouldering strangeness.