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Low Town (2011)

by Daniel Polansky

Series: Low Town (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3222857,162 (3.6)30
In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, is Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its champion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition. The Warden's life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his discovery of a murdered child down a dead-end street, setting him on a collision course with the life he left behind. As a former agent with Black House--the secret police--he knows better than anyone that murder in Low Town is an everyday thing, the kind of crime that doesn't get investigated. To protect his home, he will take part in a dangerous game of deception between underworld bosses and the psychotic head of Black House, but the truth is far darker than he imagines.… (more)
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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Enjoyable

Low Town ditches the knight in shining armor for a wretched and battered agent fallen from grace who turned into a sort of crime lord and unlikely protector of his neighborhood.

The story was good, the pacing was appropriate and the plot twists satisfactory if a bit predictable.

I’ll make sure to pick up the second book once I’m done with my current series. ( )
  Miguel.Arvelo | Jun 9, 2020 |
Dirty noir fantasy, featuring drugs, dead children, plague, and revenge, now featuring dirty cops and cocky evil nobles and a crowded world of blades, sorcery, and mystery.

The novel is very successful in its world-building. The place is even more interesting and claustrophobic than the characters, and this is pretty much a character-driven tale where no one is quite good enough. I mean, how heroic is it going to be when a main character is a drug pusher?

And yet, when push comes to shove, deeper motivations such as stopping the deaths of children does transcend most petty or old beefs, but that's not to say that everything gets resolved neatly, because nothing is ever clean in this fantasy.

The name should give it away. :)

I enjoyed this book mostly for its conception, but it did hit me viscerally with all the kid's deaths. The characters could have pulled me in more, perhaps, but I certainly didn't dislike the novel. If you love dirty fantasy noir, then you'll certainly enjoy this. The MC's aren't OP. They're generally in over their heads and do the best they can. The gritty realism is the biggest selling point. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
well written and entertaining. Some good characters and some not so interesting ones. Something was missing for me but I can't put my finger on it. Maybe I just took too long to read it. I'll definitely be reading more of this author. ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
This is so close to being really excellent that I'm possibly more disposed to be harsh on its flaws. It was occasionally a magnificent exercise in language (from the arch-Confucian slanging matches to the pithy reflections) but occasionally merely good. It's a charmingly complex and historied world, but a somewhat same-old urban setting. The Chinese-based race teetered alarmingly on the verge of racefail now and then; I'm quite uncomfortable with some of the decisions made there. But our "hero" is convincingly part of a really gritty underworld in a way that far too often thief-heroes aren't.

Overall, I feel like it was quite a short, sharp and simple story; done very well, but I would have really loved some complexity, complication, extrapolation... MORE. I'm really just terribly demanding. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
This book straddles the line between two very dangerous genres: noir/detective and fantasy. Both genres live or die by the thin line between trope and cliche.

Polansky walks that line very well. The trope handled the best, in my opinion, is the narrator. The noir staple of the Hardboiled Detective is handled admirably here.

Instead of settling on a hard-drinking Private Investigator with a short fuse (but a heart of gold), Polansky gives us a proper anti-hero. I won't spoil the character here, but he is neither a boy scout with a drinking problem nor a repentant villain. And the book is all the stronger for it.

I look forward to picking up the other two books in the series once I've pruned my backlog a bit. ( )
  nromdotcom | Apr 28, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
The first chapter of Low Town, Daniel Polansky’s debut novel, opens with a piss and closes with a puke. Between the two are terse introductions to thugs, pimps, pushers, and Low Town itself, the corrupt borough they infest. All this would be standard if Low Town were just a hardboiled detective yarn. It’s not. Instead, Polansky transplants his love of crime noir into a magic-steeped, secondary-world fantasy setting. It’s an inherently troublesome mash-up that could only work in the hands of a silly satirist or a deft, sensitive dramatist with the blackest sense of humor. Polansky is wholeheartedly the latter—and Low Town is brilliant proof.
added by ShelfMonkey | editThe AV Club, Jason Heller (Aug 24, 2011)
 
A strong debut novel with a hero who doesn’t waste time worrying about the moral implications of cutting someone’s throat.
added by ShelfMonkey | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 1, 2011)
 
Polansky hits all the right notes in his intelligent first novel, a blend of dystopian fantasy and hard-boiled crime . . . Sharp, noir-tinged dialogue and astute insights into class struggle mark Polansky as a writer with a future.
added by ShelfMonkey | editPublishers Weekly (Jun 6, 2011)
 

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