Low Town (Low Town, #1)Low Town by Daniel Polansky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lean, mean, and to the point. Rating: 3.5

Dirty streets, magic, and criminal machinations…all it needed was a few Uzis and a couple “dame” comments to hit that truly noir feeling.

I picked this book up because I have been in a reading slump and wanted something not overly complex to wean me back into my literary world. This novel is perfect if you want a casual read that does not tie you in and yet still keeps you engaged. It is easy go put down and easy to come back to.

This is not a book with a complex world full of imagery and beautiful prose. It is the exact opposite. The author does not waste time with pretty-ing anything up or making it more palatable for the reading taste. He cuts everything to the quick and gives it to you gritty. Most people will either hate this book or enjoy it for what it is: a down and dirty noir mystery with a moderate pace and a deductive puzzle. This is not a great book. But if you can appreciate the genre, it is definitely a good one. Do not expect a fast murder-who-done-it. There is an intriguing blend of past and present that leaves a person curious enough to pick up the next book in the series.

It was good, especially the mystery, but nothing to get too excited over.


“Bad out there?” I asked.
“Getting worse.”
“It usually is.”

Low Town is the worst place in the kingdom. Crippled from a plague decades previous, it is the hang out of the corrupt and the home to the drug dealers, brothels, crime syndicates, thieves, and orphans. And things have just gotten worse. A child killer is on the loose. A child killer who just may not be human.

“I’m all up on friends, stocked full with associates, and met my quota of acquaintances. The only openings I have left are for strangers and enemies. Make yourself the first, before you find yourself the second.”

The Warden is a man who crawled out of the gutter to become the second most powerful man in the kingdom, only to throw it all away and become the most manipulative drug (and drug addict) dealer in Low Town. He makes no excuses for his behavior. But when he stumbles across a dead child, he brushes off his old skills to investigate her murder. Afterall, Low Town is his and he makes the rules there.

It’s for the greater good, or so I am told. It seems a great many things these days are to be sacrificed to that nebulous ideal.”

However, finding the killer only leads to more questions. Down the rabbit hole and just a few more dead and the Warden ends up on the radar of the most powerful men in the kingdom….powerful and corrupt. Now he has no choice and a quickly approaching deadline to figure out what is really going on in his small kingdom or children will not be the only dead.

Character Development
This book is about the characters. The mystery is secondary.

The characters in this novel were a home run. From the best friend to the spymaster,each character was fully formed with even the most minute of entries giving us a good feel for exactly who this person is.

What this novel lacked in world building it, it compensated with realistic situations and complex characters. The dialogue is both believable and enjoyable. There are no sudden changes of heart in this dark world. Evil comes,and evil goes.

“Then there is no hope for any of us?”
“You’re a cold old man.”
“It’ a cold world. I’ve adjusted to the temperature.”
“Quite right,quite right. We play our hands until the end.”

This is not your hero’s story. The Warden is not a redeemable character and his best friend is not the plucky sidekick meant to drag him back into the light. These are people who made bad choses,admit to them, and live their lives as best they can. Do not expect epiphanies or happy endings here.

“It is strange the paths a man finds himself on. In story books everyone’s granted some critical moment when the road forks and your options are laid out clear in front of you: heroism or villany. But it’s not like that, is it? Decisions follow decisions, each minor in and of itself,made in the heat of the moment or the dregs of instinct. Then one day you look up and realize that you’re stuck. That every muttered answer is a bar in a cage you’ve built, and the momentum of each choice moves you forward as inexorably as the will of the Firstborn.”