Saturday, July 10, 2021

Midnight, Water City by Chris McKinney: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Midnight, Water City by Chris McKinney

Midnight, Water City is crime fiction set in near future where humanity has managed to recuperate from an ecological disaster. Science has found a way to build to the bottom of the oceans—for superrich—and on it for the average wealthy—and those who live above their means, like the protagonist. Age is just a number, as everyone can rejuvenate themselves. And everyone is happy with the way things are, because forty years earlier, the humanity avoided mass extinction by splitting an asteroid that was heading to earth.

The scientist responsible for the feat, Akira Kimura, is revered as near god. And then she’s found dead by her former security guy, who promptly becomes a suspect. Since he’s the only one who truly knew her, he sets out to investigate the crime.

Eighty years old but passing as forty, thanks to science, he’s disillusioned and about to blow his fourth marriage. The investigation is all he has left. It soon turns inwards and back in time, as he starts to question his relationship with Akira. And every new thing he learns makes him realise he didn’t know her at all, which means he doesn’t really know who he is anymore.

The mystery was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end. The reasons behind the crime were over the top, but in the context of sci-fi, they sort of worked. The ending was satisfying, and managed to utilise the more innovative aspects of the worldbuilding.

Still, this wasn’t a book for me. I’ve lost appetite for overly descriptive sentences that take forever to reach the point, and forced cynicism. And I’ve never had taste for middle-aged men wallowing in self-pity. Unfortunately, the entire plot relies on that—even if the middle-aged man in question is over eighty. I’m glad he found some clarity about his life in the end, but I can’t say I cared for him much. I can’t even recall his name—if it was even revealed in the book. If it wasn’t, I didn’t notice until it was time to write this review.

I seldom comment on the cover and title of the book, but they’re completely wrong for the book and set up expectations that the book simply doesn’t meet. This wasn’t neo noir set in seedy side alleys. And while midnight probably refers to the bottom of the ocean, most of the book took place in sunshine and in seaside paradise resorts of ultra-rich. My overall impression was bright warmth, which made the protagonist’s whining even more annoying.

If you have stomach for middle-aged men wallowing in self-pity, this is a book for you. If you are a middle-aged man wallowing in self-pity, read it. You might find a sympathetic soul in there.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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