Necropolis by Michael Dempsey
Publisher: Night Shade Books/Oct. 2011
In a world where death is a thing of the past, how far would you go to solve your own murder? NYPD detective Paul Donner and his wife Elise were killed in a hold-up gone wrong. Fifty years later, Donner is back: revived courtesy of the Shift. Supposedly the unintended side-effect of a botched biological terrorist attack and carried by a ubiquitous retrovirus, the Shift jump-starts dead DNA and throws the life cycle into reverse, so reborns like Donner must cope with the fact that they are not only slowly youthing toward a new childhood, but have become New York”s most hated minority. With New York quarantined beneath a geodesic blister, government and basic services have been outsourced by a private security corporation named Surazal. Reborns and infected norms alike struggle in a counterclockwise world, where everybody gets younger, you can see Elvis every night at Radio City Music Hall, and nobody has any hope of ever seeing the outside world. Lost in a sea of nostalgia, NYC becomes an inwardly focused schizophrenic culture of alienation and loss. In this backwards-looking culture where only some of the dead have returned, Donner is haunted by revivers guilt, and becomes obsessed with finding out who killed him and his non-returning wife. Little does he know, strange forces have already begun tracking him. Donner isn”t the only one obsessed with the past.
Necropolis had a couple of things going for it right away for me. One, it’s a Night Shade Books title (I loves me some Night Shade), and secondly, what a great cover! Noir, sci-fi, suspense, and horror? Yes please! When NYC cop Paul Donner and his wife Elise are gunned down in a bodega holdup, it seems it’s lights out for our hero. Not so fast! Fast forward 40 years later, post Shift (bioweapon? something else?), and Donner takes his first breath since his death. It seems folks are coming back from the dead. Not as shambling zombies, but as reborns. Everything regenerates, with the only differences being shock white hair, black fingernails and a pesky tendency to “youth”. Think about that for a minute. It’s just as horrible as it sounds. You die. You come back. You begin to age…backwards. Add to that the general population treating you like a 3rd class citizen, and it’s no wonder reborns choose suicide more often than not. When Donner, depressed and drowning in alcohol, gets an offer from a beautiful woman to find out who’s killing her employees, he reluctantly takes the case. Little does he know what a roller coaster ride it will be. See, the lovely lady that hires Donner turns out to be a pretty mean motor scooter, but our hero is certainly no dummy, so she’s gonna have her work cut out for her. Oh yes, yes she will.
Michael Dempsey’s NYC of the future is a tech infused, nourish, retro-futuristic playground entirely enclosed by a geodesic dome, surrounded by wasteland. Sounds fun, huh? I dunno, some parts might be fun, like the individual enclaves that have adopted certain time periods, like the Roaring 20’s, or the groovy 60’s. Other parts…not so much, like the fact that a huge corporation runs the show, and they’re doing some not-so-nice things with human genetics. It’s precisely this conglomerate that is using Donner for reasons he never considered, and it will take everything in his arsenal and all of his considerable wits, to outrun and outsmart this diabolical entity. Necropolis is told from third person (with the exception of Donner) and does change point of view quite a bit. Once you get used to the pace (and you will), you’re golden, and you’ll definitely enjoy the ride. I really liked the different POVs, but I’ll admit, I found myself looking forward to getting back to Donner…but I digress. Necropolis is a wild, wild ride that takes its readers through the underground of NYC, the machinations of an evil woman bent on world domination, to the rich environs of an Arabian palace in the middle of the New Jersey desert. Add to that an unlikely (yet very sweet) romance with an AI moll named Maggie, and a hero who is as complex as the twists and turns in this story, and you get a recipe for a really, really good read. There’s so much awesomeness in Necropolis that I want to gush and share, but that would take away quite a bit of the fun, now wouldn’t it? If you’re a fan of sci-fi, urban fantasy, and noir, you don’t want to miss this rich, complex story that is Necropolis. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next book from Michael Dempsey, and Necropolis is one of my favorite reads this year!
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