on 21 October 2021
The kid disappeared two days ago. Missing. Abducted. Murdered. What have you…
Just another in an endless line of indigent kids wrung from the dregs of the Machine City.
And it’s my job to find him.
Me. Avinash Singh, detective extraordinaire. Probably you ain’t heard of me. Not if you run the straight and narrow and ply the right side of the tracks. Cause me? I ply the other.
Two days missing…Two long days in the Machine City, last bastion of mankind in all its fallen glory. Where the sum total of life’s cheaper than in part.
I hope I find the kid. By God, I do. But if I can’t find all of him, I pray I find none.
This review is part of the SPSFC competition. My team, the Wayward Stars is currently reading all the quarter-finalists of our allocated books to determine the semi-finalists. I’ve reviewed Tropical Punch and Intergalactic Bastard already. Clarity of Cold Steel is my third review, with reviews of Titan Hoppers and Viral still to come.
Clarity of Cold Steel is another detective story, about a private investigator who’s tasked with finding a boy, the nephew of the man who loaned him a liver.
What stood out to me immediately was the writing style. The author uses a lot of synonyms, similes, idioms, and slang. This made it hard to read for me, especially since he regularly used multiple of these in one sentence. I had to work twice as hard to really know what it said which kept me from enjoying the story to a degree. I also didn’t get a clear grasp of the world because there’s talk about nationalities but all close together. Even the Vatican still exists. I have no idea where all of this is located, why this world is as it is, why there’s still talk about nationalities when it’s all just one city, one nation.
Our detective, Mr. Singh, has a whole backstory but we only get a glimpse of it. He’s an alcoholic who, even after a liver transplant, is still set on destroying his new one. He has problems, that’s obvious. He no longer lives with his wife and kids, and doesn’t have the money to pay off his liver. Which makes him indebted to the man who brokered the surgery. His brother is a famous knife fighter, and Mr. Singh feels like he’s in his brother’s shadow all the time. It’s strange how at some moments he knows exactly what to do, and other times he feels like the clumsiest idiot in existence. Maybe it’s a bit of both. He definitely had a streak of bad luck. And it continues throughout the book.
I had a dozen reasons to stop reading but I really wanted to give this book a chance, so I kept reading despite it being a struggle. I’m glad I did because the ending was good enough to redeem a few earlier flaws. It wasn’t anything I expected and tied up a few plot points that definitely needed more clarification. If the writing style doesn’t bother you (check the sample to get an idea) it’s definitely a fun read.