LOW TOWN by Daniel Polansky

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pub date: August 2011
MSRP: $25.95

I want to thank Daniel Polansky for writing this book. Low Town forced me to use my imagination in ways I was unaccustomed to and I loved it. Polansky took crime and fantasy and created a hardboiled world where sorcery, drugs, plague, and trench warfare are things its citizens know well.

You’ve got this city called Rigus, which struck me as a Victorian-era Detroit on a heavy dose of hallucinogens. In Rigus, you got this area called Low Town. You know Low Town, it’s where all the bad shit happens. It’s run by a man called the Warden. He is a veteran of trench warfare, a fallen intelligence agent turned independent drug dealer, and Low Town is his town. He lives over a bar while getting high on his own supply, going out to conduct business and protect his turf. Somebody starts killing kids using a method at once creative yet brutal. You know the Warden can’t have that, and he’s going to come out of his haze, take his licks and solve the crime.

It is a well worn formula. The Warden strongly reminds me of Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt, but Daniel Polansky has created a new world. I loved it. I loved trying to picture that world. Normally, shit like demons and sorcerers would make me run, as I’ve always thought fantasy shit had no balls. Polansky took those elements and those of a traditional crime novel and did something cool. The ending left me hoping for a series. I want to go back to Low Town.

Dave Wahlman