August 19, 2014

Linux-Flavored Noir: DARK DIGITAL SKY

His name is Chaucer, but he prefers to be called Chalk - he's a private investigator who is literate, familiar with the world of coders and hackers, and who has a bit of a problem playing nicely. He also finds himself caught in a very elaborate scheme which begins with a man attempting to track down his heirs...ones conceived via a special kind of bank.....

That's the premise of Carac Allison's Dark Digital Sky, a novel due to be released in mid-September. (I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy for review). This is a very sharp, extremely intelligent hard-boiled mystery that mixes great high-end concepts with traditional pulp-flavor. Imagine Mickey Spillane and Daniel Suarez as co-writers, and you'll get a sense of Dark Digital Sky's tone.

It's a very nice, well-paced plot, with Chalk making some nice, well-written soliloquies in between moments of detection. But these aren't literary indulgences - they help make the plot move along at a steady clip. In fact, the plot moves like a well-coordinated game of three-card monte, manging shifts in plot that never seem artificial or forced. Dark Digital Sky also integrates aspects of 21st century life, coming up with very clever takes on military matters, law enforcement, and even literature and movies that never seem self-indulgent.

Dark Digital Sky is a book that's too good to spoil, with a plot that runs like clockwork, characters that feel fully formed, and an atmosphere that simply envelops the reader. It also does what other favorite authors like Spillane, Robert B. Parker, and Jim Thompson do best - make me wish the next installment were out already.

Dark Digital Sky is probably the closest we'll ever get to a model of "geek noir." It's a must-read for anyone looking for a distinctive, unique literary well as an entertaining read.

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