A sharp and scary near-future thriller that delivers a dark message about society’s love affair with technology.
After being called to an upscale home, San Francisco Homicide Inspector Ross Carver and his partner find a horror show, a dead body that's been eaten away by something that's left it looking like "gray moss. Like a carpet of it spread across a rot-shrunken log." The cops are still getting their bearings when they're ushered out by the FBI , hustled into a disinfectant chamber, then rendered unconscious. Carver wakes to find his mysterious neighbor, Mia Westcott, by his bedside, but he can’t remember the past two days. Mia seems oddly eager to help him investigate, but he can’t quite trust her. A game of cat and mouse, punctuated with gruesome murder, ensues, revealing a far-reaching, reprehensible plot. Moore’s subtly futuristic San Francisco, beset by the buzzing of drones, crumbling buildings, and gangs of copper thieves, sets the ugliness of the physically and morally decaying city against scenes of ostentatious and very conspicuous consumption. A shocking act of violence at a luxury store between rabid patrons and out-of-control police officers is an eye-opener, as is one of the few things, besides the smell of ozone, that Carver remembers from his missing days: the Fairmont Hotel “draped entirely in black fabric, the gauzy cloth tied in place with red silk ribbons that circled the building.” There are no easy answers at the culmination of Moore’s unsettling, stylish noir, the third in a loosely connected trilogy set in San Francisco (The Dark Room, 2017, etc.). Good thing Carver isn’t the type to give in or give up. The not-quite-nihilistic yet still utterly shocking revelations in the third act are the stuff of nightmares.
You’ll never look at a flock of sparrows the same way again.