Paul Donner and his wife are on their way to a night at the opera when they are both killed in a robbery. Fifty years later, Donner is reanimated, a victim of a bioweapon that has allowed the revivification of the dead, and transformed New York City into the Necropolis, a prison for both the living and the reborn, the revivified dead, who are now carriers of a plague that could spread the revivification to the rest of the world. Donner cannot let his old life go, despite the urgings of his reintegration counselor, Maggie, an embodied AI, because he was an NYPD detective in his former life, and he is baffled and infuriated that the murders were allowed to go cold. He gets only a little help from his former partner, since as a reborn he is almost an untouchable, and because the necropolis he is now a citizen of is both familiar and fractured beyond his recognition. When his partner throws him a case to get Donner out of his life, Donner uses the connections to investigate his own murder.
Part noir-gumshoe and part-outbreak novel, Necropolis is a fairly successful mash up of both genres. Donner is tenacious and quick-witted, and the dames in his life--the helpful Maggie, his lost wife Elise, and the femme fatale Nicole who brings him his case--are true to their noir origins, both enticing and duplicitous. As a mystery, the novel is very strong and the mystery plot, solve his own murder and solve the origin of the outbreak, make for a fairly gripping read. As science fiction, the setting is highly visual and well released, with the past and future mingling convincingly in the necropolic. But the outbreak itself, especially the mechanics of its dispersal and its purpose, is a little weak on science, making it more powerful as a metaphysical plague, where the author can explore the ramifications of mortality and the quest to become immortal. Overall, the book was a gripping mystery, the characters likeable and complex, and a setting that an urban fantasy reader would probably enjoy revisiting.
Paul Donner is a NYPD detective with a drinking problem and a marriage on the rocks. Then he and his wife get dead–shot to death in a “random” crime. 50 years later, Donner’s back–revived by of the Shift, a process that reanimates dead DNA.
The Shift has turned the world upside down. This new “reborn” underclass is not only alive again, they’re growing younger. Beneath the protective geodesic Blister, clocks run backwards, technology is hidden behind a noir facade, and you can see Bogart and DiCaprio in The Maltese Falcon III.
In this retro-futurist world of flying Studebakers and plasma tommy guns, Donner searches for those responsible for the destruction of his life. His quest for retribution leads him to the heart of the mystery surrounding the Shift’s origin and up against those who would use it to control a terrified nation.