Cover Image: Titanium Noir

Titanium Noir

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

What if a kind of godlike immortality were possible?

Genetically-altered elites called Titans are a small but powerful group of untouchables. 

Now, what if one of those Titans were murdered?

This is the launching point for Titanium Noir. Ceal Sounder is a detective who only works special cases involving the Titans. Right from the start, we’re tangled in a complex web of lies, deceit, and entitlement, with a side of murder and callousness.

Nick Harkaway’s writing style nails the noir vibe. The tone is gritty, and our detective is a beautiful shade of morally gray.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced, unique story. Titanium Noir is the first in the new series of the same name. Can’t wait to see where book 2 takes us!

*Thanks to AAKnopf for the free copy!*
Was this review helpful?
This was an amazing update to 1950's noir detective stories. The hero could have been pulled right out of a novel by Raymond Chandler-- except it's the future and the rich are not longer just rich, their immortal giants. 

The story opens with a crime scene that appears ordinary at first glance. A nerdy tech guy named Roddy Tebbit is found dead with a gunshot to the head, lying on his apartment floor. However, many things are unusual about the victim. He looks like a basketball player around 30 years old, but he is actually a ninety-year-old Titan who has been dosed with T7 therapy, a treatment that only the ultra-rich can afford to maintain their youthfulness as genetically-altered elites of society.  

Detective Cal Sounder is an expert in socio-medical criminal investigations who takes on the case. He has connections with Stefan Tonfamecasca, the powerful billionaire who discovered the Titan technology and T7 genetic therapy, through his ex-girlfriend Athena, who turned into a Titan after a tragic accident.

As Cal delves deeper into the truth about Roddy Tebbit's murder, he finds himself facing threats from the dark heart of the elite world. He realizes that nothing is as it seems, and he finds himself in a more dangerous position than he can handle.

The book is absolutely riveting, with an intriguing and darkly sarcastic tone. The short, entertaining dialogues keep the reader's interest intact. The way the twisty mystery unfolds is also satisfying enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Was this review helpful?
A book for sci-fi fans AND fans of mystery (detective) fiction.  Imagine being able to take a serum and become Captain America.  OK, not Cap - but a Titan with Avengers-like powers.  Titans are bigger and faster than you can believe - so it is surprising when one is murdered.  Specialist Cal Sounder, not a Titan himself, is called in to help the police investigate.  As Cal puts his finely honed detective skills into practice he discovers that this case may be bigger (see what I did there?) than he ever could have imagined.  
Spectacular world-building, a great mystery.  This book has it all!
Was this review helpful?
If you enjoy a blend of mystery and scifi, don't bother reading any reviews - just go out and buy this book right now.
Cal Sounder is a detective who works with the police on special projects - generally those that need a little more discretion. When he's called in to a homicide scene at a local apartment, he's not quite sure why he's been called ... until he sees the victim, a giant of a man, over seven feet tall, who looks to be about 30 years old, though he's actually over 90. The victim, Roddy Tebbit, is a Titan.

Titans are relatively uncommon. T7 - a gene therapy treatment - was discovered by Stefan Tonfamecasca and has made the Tonfamescasca family nearly untouchable royalty. T7 not only prolongs the takers' life, but distorts their proportions and increases their mass and strength in kind. A dead Titan is supremely rare. A murdered Titan is unthinkable.

It makes sense then to Cal that he's been called. He's considered the Titan expert among the police because his ex-girlfriend, Athena, is a Titan ... the daughter of Stefan Tonfamecasca and her to the family fortune.

But understanding Titans won't help him as he digs deep into a dark underworld where cops on the take and Titans both want him out of the way.

 I had not heard of or read Nick Harkaway prior to this, but this was some of the most spectacular crime/noir writing that I have ever read. I've become an immediate Harkaway fan (and have since read up on him a little and see that he comes from a strong writing pedigree).

The story, the mystery, is strong. I had some minor issue with the fact that the mystery established early in the book is resolved and the denouement goes on for as long as it does, but this is relatively minor in the grand scheme of the book for this reader.

The language is delicious. We get wrapped up in the brilliant flow of the writing - young and would-be authors should read this to learn how to "show-don't-tell." And Cal Sounder is a perfect futuristic version of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe - tough in all the right ways, clever but unassuming, and doggedly determined no matter what threats he faces.  He's on the edge of death more than once here which might seem a bit melodramatic in the hands of a less skilled writer but it absolutely works here. 

Without giving too much away, I'll say that it was refreshing to read a mystery that is unlikely (but not impossible) to be a series.  How often do we find stand-alone detective stories?

I was more excited about reading this book than I have been in a very long time. Goodreads describes this as "a virtuosic mashup of Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler by way of Marvel" which is pretty on-target.

Looking for a good book? If you haven't already run out to buy Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway you need to correct that right now.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Titanium Noir is a subtly written love letter to classic PI noir pulp fiction reimagined in a SF setting by Nick Harkaway. Released 16th May 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Knopf imprint, it's 256 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

The vibe here is definitely techno-noir crime thriller with a dollop of classic Chandler and an immersive deep biotech twist. It's impressively well constructed and readable and the characterizations are often so masterful that they require a moment's contemplation. For fans of vintage crime/Black Lizard/noir -and/or- Philip K. Dick style trippy SF, this is a no-fail winner. For wider audiences, it's a solid story and well worth a look. 

Four stars. This would be a good choice for public library acquisition, home use, or gifting (to SF/classic noir friends). This one will unquestionably be short listed for the Hugo 2024.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
Was this review helpful?
Read this over the space of a few nights. It's a fairly middle of the road book that blends together noir and superhumans as a consulting detective tries to figure out who murdered a Titan and is further drawn into intrigue and plotting among the families. Mostly focuses on the dialogue versus description, and it felt like it wanted me to know how slick it was. Solid enough story, worth having read through.
Was this review helpful?
If the prolific author Ross McDonald's 1940's noir private eye Lew Archer could somehow be reanimated into the Near Future,  he would manifest as Cal Sounder, the no-nonsense near-unstoppable private "consultant" to law enforcement of TITANIUM NOIR.  Author Nick Harkaway must have spent his lifetime reading classic noir, because he has superbly nailed the genre on its head. TITANIUM NOIR is perfectly accomplished.  I can only hope Cal Sounder returns for a repeat encounter.  I'll be waiting!
Was this review helpful?
Nick Harkaway has written a fun sci-fi mystery romp in Titanium Noir. There are the extremely large Titans, a mysterious miracle drug, a crime family, and murder. All goes well together and it’s set in a world not that far off from ours. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf for an ARC of this book.
Was this review helpful?
A murder mystery set in a near future world where a medical treatment--only available to the super-rich, and only by invitation--gives youth and long life, at the cost of growing to a giant size.  They call these people Titans.  Our hero is a hard-bitten detective with ties to the family that owns the Titan formula who works the cases where the Titans intersect with the normal people.

The characters were realistic and interesting, and the mysteries were clever enough to keep me guessing.  The characters weren't all that likable though.
Was this review helpful?
The mystery part was interesting, but it took me awhile to get the gist of the characteris, the Titans. Cal Sounder, the detective, was entertaining, and the promise of his and Athena's further relationship seems to lead to a follow-up novel.

Thanks to the publisher, author and Netgalley for an honest review of this book.
Was this review helpful?
It's safe to say that I have never read a book like this before, and I actually enjoyed it much more than I expected. I think this is one to pick up if it sounds interesting to you!
Was this review helpful?
This book is excellent for fans of crime fiction and noir detective shows/media. The writing was clever and the story was interesting. I found the characters to be well thoughts out as well as the world and plot.
Was this review helpful?
File under: another ARC I read and forgot to review! Secondary classification: books my husband would probably enjoy.

Do you like future worlds where a handful of people can live forever, but with massive side effects? As in - literally massive?

Do you like stories where bits are doled out and the narrator is as cagey as the people he's interacting with?

Do you like an ending that is wholly predictable but almost nothing else is?

My main quibble with this book is that I got a few chapters in and the worldbuilding was such that I wondered if the MC was, in fact, a spinoff character who had suddenly gotten his own story, because you are so offhandedly plunged into this world of Titans that it's almost like "hey, wait, did I miss something?" - a cursory search of the author's previous titles revealed that I did not, in fact miss something. It's just a world where you're immediately immersed and expected to catch up.

Oddly enough, the book reminded me most in reading experience of Holly Black's Book of Night, a book that had nearly nothing in common with this one. I liked this one better, though.

I'm aware that all of the catchup reviews I'm writing tonight are absolute messes, but I have to say, this was less of a "mystery" and more of a cinematic ride that was a perfect mashup of superheroes, sci-fi, and noir.
Was this review helpful?
In a world of genetically altered humans known as Titans, Cal Sounder finds himself working detective cases in the middle ground between humans and Titans. His past with ex-girlfriend Athena, now a Titan, gives him a unique perspective on the political and social ramifications of a group of people who consider themselves elite and near indestructible. When Sounder is brought in to investigate a murdered Titan, he must figure out who has the skill to defeat a Titan and why they would want to. Sounder quickly finds himself entangled with the Titans and trying to sort out their secrets, all while trying to keep himself alive. Overall, an interesting blend of sci-fi with classic detective noir. The world building was detailed and Sounder was morally grey at times, but mostly trying to help people find justice.
Was this review helpful?
It seems like Nick Harkaway must have had a lot of fun writing this clever mash-up of science fiction and pulp detective noir, because it's a lot of fun to read. It's full of well-written characters (gotta love Cal, and who wouldn't dig the Titans?). Lots of twists in this cozy sci-fi mystery.
Was this review helpful?
🕵️‍♂️ The blurb for this book says it is a “virtuosic mashup of Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler by way of Marvel” and they weren’t kidding. That is the perfect description of this book.

🕵️‍♂️ I’ve been trying to read a little bit out of my comfort zone, and this was a perfect book for that. It is a creative mix of sci-fi, crime, noir, fantasy, and mystery. It is genre-bending to say the least! Sadly, it wasn’t for me. It isn’t a bad book in any way… it just wasn’t the type of story I think I could learn to appreciate.

🕵️‍♂️ The story itself is interesting. At its core it is a murder mystery. But there are also a lot of social, moral, and political themes incorporated to give the story a lot of depth. I will admit I found it riveting at first, but I eventually got bored and struggled to finish.

🕵️‍♂️ If you are a fan of Philip K. Dick or Raymond Chandler specifically, or noir in general, I think you will absolutely love this book and I highly recommend you read it. I’m glad I read the book and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, but sadly it just wasn’t for me.

Thank you @netgalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for an eARC of this book, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
Was this review helpful?
The novel takes place against the backdrop of a city called Chersenesos, the home of the Titans, with a view from its gleaming skyscrapers of the grand statues of Cronus and Gaia flanking the Typhon Pass across the deep Lake Othrys.  Cal is a detective who is a lonely, and not so well-liked human being.  He works for the police on special cases.  He is charged with the task of putting together the story of a “nerd, a romantic, and a widower” called Roddy Tebbit, a murdered Titan.  Titans exist by Tonfamecasca’s discovery of the controversial T7  genetic therapy.  The T7 turns average humans into near-immortal distortions of themselves—with immense physical proportions to match their unreachable lifestyles. A dead Titan is big news, but murdered is even bigger news.  Cal has a ex-girlfriend who is a Titan.  While shaking down some old contacts and chasing clues from one dead end to another, he is told a  rumor about a couple in love, part real, part fantasy. His investigation takes him back into the deranged family matters of his ex-girlfriend Athena, whose father, the domineering businessman Stefan Tonfamecasca, is the owner of the company that administers the highly desirable Titanium 7 treatment. Cal’s search for Roddy’s murderer puts him in an ever more dangerous positions in the this family of Titans.  Cal is on the sidelines of several parts of this murder mystery, where a good detective ought to be. Besides cop life, he dips in and out of the world of the Titans, through the facades of the seedy lives of several criminal elements.  Cal has to grapple with the trauma of his own shadowy past.  He is complacent where his investigation ends up taking him.

The story is peppered with fun, creative technology.  The isles of tech is believable  and fits the storyline.  The author does an excellent job of depicting law enforcement.  The author’s original, hilarious crime novel is for anyone interested in sci-fi and a good murder mystery should definitely give this a read.
Was this review helpful?
Classic noir detective story with a sci-fy/urban bent.  Blending different genres don't always work, but this one blends so smoothly that it doesn't even seem like a mashup.  It just IS and it pulls classic themes like wealth in a totally contemporary way.  I would recommend this for fans of Jim Butcher's Desden novels or for readers who have read YA Dystopias and are looking for more with social commentary along with the action or mystery.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great author continuing to push the envelope of future possibilities -- couched in the familiar noir detective murder investigation that unravels the society. In this world, people become titans through an injection that reboots adolescence at whatever age - making them bigger and more immortal. They can do this multiple times with varying consequences, but their size becomes a bit inconvenient to say the least. A corporate tycoon who invented and built his empire on the process closely guards who can and cannot get the injection. When a mysterious titan is found dead, a quirky fixer who navigates the legal and titan worlds is called upon to figure out what happened, working his experienced knowledge of various entertaining and colorful underworld characters - from vivid bar fights to original takes on the various types of lackeys and opportunists surrounding these underworlds.
Was this review helpful?
Nothing Nick Harkaway does is quite like what he did last, and this book is no exception: a pulpy noir, meshing hard-boiled plotting and storytelling with a riveting near-future examination of the rich and powerful and what it might mean to extend one's life (and size) beyond mortal bounds. I hope this isn't the last we see of Cal Sounder; a sequel might be just the surprise us Harkaway fans are waiting for.
Was this review helpful?