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Irontown Blues by John Varley (ARC) - Review


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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Christopher Bach was a cop in one of the largest Lunar cities when the Central Computer suffered the Big Glitch, and became a war larger than anyone expected. Since order has been restored, Bach's life hasn't been the same. Now he is a private detective a la his favorite hard boiled and noir characters and his partner is his dog Sherlock, a genetically enhanced and super smart bloodhound. His newest case will require him to track biohackers to the infamous Irontown, if he wants to catch the people who afflicted his client with an engineered virus. If he can get in and out in one piece that is.

Irontown Blues is my first John Varley book, and I enjoyed it so much that I highly doubt that it will be my last. This new sci-fi noir novel is set in the same universe as his Eight Worlds series, but you don't need to be familiar with it to follow this all new story. Honestly, all I needed to hear was sci-fi noir since I have a soft spot for noir and the right combination of those two genres can be great. I didn't really have any expectations though since I'm not at all familiar with the author, but I thought this was such a cool twisty story. I didn't know exactly how much I needed this book. As much as I liked Chris's story and learning about his background, I have to admit I was the most invested in Sherlock's story and his version of events. It's quite creative how Varely translates the super smart Sherlock's thoughts to the page - and Sherlock gets some of the best moments. Usually I read dogs to sound like either Dug from Up or Manchee from Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness, but for some reason, I totally had Korg from Thor: Ragnarok in in mind when it came comes to Sherlock here. Finally, I have to mention how much I loved all of the references to classic noirish books and movies, especially when it comes to His Girl Friday.

Overall, Irontown Blues by John Varley is a fun genre mashup of a couple of my favorite classic styles. I love that the author is so expertly able to blend key elements of the genre together and still keep it fresh. I don't know about you, but I would love to see more of these characters in the future, particularly Sherlock the bloodhound. If you like classic noir novels and/ or movies adaptations like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and Double Indemnity as well as movies like Minority Report and Blade Runner, I have a feeling you'll like Irontown Blues. I'll have to check out more of Varley's work in the future, especially the first story set in the Eight Worlds series, The Ophiuchi Hotline, to see what started everything.



I read this ARC from August 23 - 26, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsIrontown Blues by John Varley will be released on August 28th.

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