High Tide in the City, by Martine Lillycrop, is a bleak look at the world of 2070, a world in environmental and political crisis, a world where technology is both friend and foe. Enter Matt Nixon, ex-cop, ex-addict, trying to make amends for past mistakes while trying to make a living, but 2070’s Bristol England is not an easy place to make a living. The city is partially flooded and falls victim to deadly daily tides. When Nixon comes face to face with a dead serial killer who is digitized and on the loose, he is forced to join sworn enemies to try and stop the killing spree without completely loosing himself in the process.
Lillycrop is not one to baby her readers. Like Burgess does in A Clockwork Orange, she drops the reader into 2070 with little or no explanation of the changes in the world. Those changes are revealed from Nixon’s point of view as the story unfolds. It can be a challenging read at first, but Nixon is a compelling character, flawed but also admirable. Lillycrop is particularly deft at executing the action scenes and she never lets you get too comfortable about where the story is going. Nixon struggles to keep his friends close and his enemies closer, all the while trying to distinguish one from the other. It’s a fast paced read and one that will leave you thinking about it long after you’re done.
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