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NOIR by K.W. Jeter


by K.W. Jeter

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1998
ISBN: 0-553-10483-7
Publisher: Spectra/Bantam

Another grimly dystopian, futuristic puzzler from the author of Blade Runner 2 (1995), etc. By the mid-21st century, the California coast is one vast city known as the Gloss, where it’s perfectly okay to murder illegal immigrants so long as you notify the police beforehand. A DynaZauber junior-exec, William Travelt, lies dead. Chief-exec Harrisch tries to persuade ex-Collection. Agency (information police) operative McNihil —his name sets the mood of the book—to investigate. But McNihil—he’s had his eyes modified so he sees everything through a computer overlay based on 1930s crime noir movies’suspects a trap, and refuses. He talks things over with his dead wife (she’s “indeadted,” revivified so she can pay off the huge debts she left behind). He also learns that Travelt had a “prowler,” an information-collecting computer simulation, that’s disappeared along with a copy of everything that Travelt knew, including the corporate secret that Harrisch wants McNihil to recover. And McNihil’s being followed by November, another operative indebted to DynaZauber. Eventually, of course, McNihil finds himself with no choice but to comply with the demands of Harrisch, whose real intention is to control everyone by manipulating the chemistry of addiction in the brain. Even if McNihil can figure things out, he—ll have to be dead before he can defeat Harrisch. By turns impressive, knowing, heavy, strained, and suffocating. Overall, it doesn’t add up to anything in particular, but it’s an uncommon experience nonetheless.