Another book review for the year. This time, another ARC for Alan Baxter‘s latest novel Hidden City. Here’s the blurb:
When the city suffers, everyone suffers.
Steven Hines listened to the city and the city spoke. Cleveport told him she was sick. With his unnatural connection to her, that meant Hines was sick too. But when his friend, Detective Abby Jones, comes to him for help investigating a series of deaths with no discernible cause, Hines can’t say no. Then strange fungal growths begin to appear in the streets, affecting anyone who gets too close, turning them into violent lunatics.
As the mayhem escalates and officials start to seal Cleveport off from the rest of the world, Hines knows the trouble has only just begun.
I have read two of Alan’s novels so far (the first two books in the Alex Caine series) but also have his collection Crow Shine on my ever overflowing To Be Read Bookcase. With Hidden City, Alan keeps up the rapid pace of his previous novels, but this time is mixing urban fantasy, detective noir and horror. What struck me from get go is how much this book reads like one of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files books, although with a much more violent, apocalyptic and sweary bend. I love Harry Dresden, and felt that Hines felt quite like the character although at an earlier stage than Dresden was in his first apperance. Hines’s connection to the city plays well through the novel, giving Hines some great character development.
Another part that reminded me of Dresden was the relationship between Hines and Abbey, quite similar to the Dresden and Murphy relationship. The characters bounce off each other, making each of them relatable and well rounded.
The story itself hits the ground running and never lets up, even with the many plots running through. There are some quieter moments, letting the characters really shine and then in the second half, the action and horror really ramps up. It’s also here where the connection between Hines and the city of Cleveport develops.
As I don’t like the spoil anything, all I can say is that ending was quite good, I had to read it three times as the pace just doesn’t slow down.
Another fantastic read from Alan, which makes me want to finish off the Alex Caine series and read his short story collection.