A first-in-series vintage noir throwback, with modern and post-modern elements. Set in snow-laden Toronto. The Big Sleep meets Fight Club meets Drive, with a touch of Thomas Pynchon and David Lynch.
Molloy gives William a rich inner life, with a mind that never stops wandering and a vivid imagination, lending tension to a narrative that wavers between daydream and reality. His fantasies often feel ominously real, as when he recounts getting into a fight with another driver and strangling him with his seatbelt, or his musings over whether corporate meeting attendees are “avatars of their digital selves." In a nod to the mythological, William talks about meeting the “Goddess,” no doubt a reference to Hera, and delves into cryptic, but gripping, descriptions when pursuing a lead.
Overall, the driving force is Molloy’s powerful use of language. Every aspect of William’s journey drips with dramatic imagery, producing a dark and claustrophobic effect amplified by the blur between what’s real and what’s illusory. During a romance, William becomes "lost inside the world of her mouth." Elsewhere, Molloy applies his skill to violence when a woman is attacked, leaving a “dewy red hole where her eyeball used to be." The writing, especially surrounding sex and destruction, can become extreme and is often so shocking it interrupts the story’s flow. Nevertheless, Molloy offers readers some closure—and an opening for a sequel.
Takeaway: A sleuth plumbs the darkest corners of his city, and his mind, in this visceral noir.
Great for fans of: Daniel Woodrell’s Give Us a Kiss, Jim Thompson’s Savage Night.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-