String City

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

3.75 rounded up to 4* 

I received an ARC copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel was both exactly what I expected and also quite surprising. It follows the turbulent ups and downs of our protagonist, a stringwalker private detective working String City, as his city faces the apocalypse. From the first page the style evokes the spare narrative style of Hammett's Maltese Falcon or Cain's Double Indemnity. The worldbuilding is...well...weird but also seems totally normal because it's so fundamental to the universe that it exists within. 

we've got Titans, we've got Thanes, we've got sentient sewer sludge, undead angels, kingfishers, spiders, sort of vampires, alternate realities, weather gods, and hungry ghosts. this world is jam packed full of just about every weird myth or folk type character you could wish for, all of it co-existing alongside one another. 

Told in 7 parts, the structure of the novel is particularly interesting because the chapters are excessively short. This both works for and against the book. For the first 70-100 pgs i really struggled to get into it simply because of these short chapters. A chapter break is a signal to the reader that they can rest here, and theres a natural tendency to end my reading session at the end of the chapter. this becomes a problem when chapters are only 2-4 pgs. I found myself unconsciously setting the book down almost as soon as i started reading it. I also found that the plot really began to pick up in Part 2 with the addition of several side characters who helped buoy up the protagonist's narrative. Once i hit this part of the story, i flew through the last 300 or so pages.

unsettling and interesting, and i think the readers it clicks with in just the right way will enjoy it immensely. I think this book will shine for that specific cross section of noir fans who also love weird SFF/speculative fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I just finished the ARC, and I'm still not quite sure what I think of it. I wavered between three and four stars, but I figure it just tips itself over to the four. I enjoyed it, but I hesitate to classify it. I would say it's a cross between a hard-boiled detective story, a treatise on quantum mechanics, and an exploration of the myths of legend. Um, er, or something like that.

It follows a gumshoe who is never named as he tries to solve some of the weirdest cases you can think of. It's told in a series of vignettes, one for each separate case, that all start to tie into each other. Each vignette is told in a bite-sized chapter, which makes for easily stolen moments reading in between real life; it's easy to come to a logical stopping point if the world insists you do that.

Each story moves at a nice quick pace, getting to the meat of the matter without faffing about, but there's still room for some character development, at least of our main characters.

I think it's well worth a read, and you'll come out of it really wanting the protagonist's coat.
Was this review helpful?
Very Different.  The String in the title is a big part of the story.  I enjoyed how people moved and how the city changed.  The world building is over the top and overpowers the story.  Not my favorite but interesting.
Was this review helpful?
utterly enjoyable mind-blowing action - among Titans and catastrophes - a private detective manages to leap space and time , folding up and threading his way through a string universe in pursuit of a major event that even the Titans want to sweep under the radar ... contacts with wierded out skills (although none of them really think so, since it is their world), the ethos of the place is full of discomfort with hierarchy and rejection of tough guy dominance .. the light tone of the PI is appealing and fits it into that great LA noir of Chandler and others of that ilk - really entertaining, and inventive - and there's a mystery to be solved too - a crime! ! I hope Edwards will carry on with this series ...
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! It's amazing and spellbinding. My full, more detailed review is available on my blog.
Was this review helpful?
String City is unlike any book I have ever read.  If you’re a fan of China Mieville and like a strong dose of weird to your books, pick this one up.  
String City, home to a rough and downtrodden gumshoe detective, is the center of a complicated knot of cosmic strings.  Here, dimensions fold together allowing for stringwalking, the crossing of dimensions by using the cosmic strings as a type of roadway.  Add in some mythological creatures, gods, demigods, and a world falling apart and you’ll have the most basic understanding of one of the most complicated worlds I have ever read about.  
String City follows an unnamed detective and his series of sidekicks as they solve dangerous cases involving gods, Greek Titans, and other mysterious and powerful creatures.  Witty dialogue and the incredibly complicated world building provide an entertaining read that is full of twists and turns.  
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
THE UNIVERSE IS MADE OF STRING. WHEN THE KNOTS TIGHTEN, THE COSMOS QUAKES.

It’s a tough job being a gumshoe in an interdimensional city full of gods, living concepts and weirder things. Good thing I’m a stringwalker, able to jump between realities.

It started when I was hired to investigate an explosion at a casino. A simple heist, I thought, but it turned into a race to stop the apocalypse. So I rolled the dice, and now I’m up against the ancient Greek Titans, an interdimensional spider god and a mysterious creature known as the Fool. I’m going to need more than just luck to solve this one.

If I fail, all things—in all realities—could be destroyed.

Just another day in String City.

This week, it’s time for some crime, but with a distinctly different flavour than any other crime novel I’ve ever reviewed before. The threads of reality that hold the fabric of existence together all meet in String City. All manner of beings, weird and wonderful, devilish and divine, inhabit the city streets. When things go wrong, and a degree of subtlety is required, then a certain individual is called upon to ensure the wheels of all the multiverses continue to turn smoothly.

How does a down-at-heel shamus navigate through the cacophony of chaos that is String City? Well, a reliable coffee machine, a multi-dimensional filing cabinet and a Swiss Army coat* certainly help. Of course, when you are dealing with the entirety of existence then you are also going to need friends. The good news is that “The Gumshoe” (he is never explicitly named) is not alone. Over the course of his adventures, he manages to pick up some new associates; a young woman called Zephyr, with the obligatory mysterious past, and an artificial intelligence nicknamed Bronzey who has decided there must be more to life than office work. This mismatched surrogate family try to solve the cases that cross their desk, but each new clue seems to point even bigger mysteries including the threat of a forthcoming apocalypse.

There is a nice episodic air to String City. We get to follow The Gumshoe as he uncovers the culprit behind The Tartarus Heist. Who would be stupid enough to steal from a Titan? I mean they are huge, and I suspect their vengeance would probably be, at the very least, pretty damned wrathful). Elsewhere, simple cases of marital infidelity manage to be far more complex than they initially appear. Each new case reveals a little bit more about what is going on whilst still managing to also succeed as a standalone. My favourite parts of the narrative occur in a case called Windy City. Our erstwhile hero gets involved in a local labour dispute with the gods of weather that spirals out of all control. On a side note, I was pleased to discover that of course the tax inspectors in String City are giant insects. I mean c’mon, why wouldn’t they be?

Where I think String City really excels is in the use of language. There are a whole host of marvellously judged throw away lines. Edwards lets rip with a plethora of old school crime busting lingo. We are firmly in the realms of detective noir and there is an expectation that a private eye is going to talk a certain way. The writing embraces this idea wholeheartedly. The voice of the main protagonist is suitably crumpled and ground down by life. I think I was imagining a cross between Columbo and Sam Spade. A little dishevelled, but given half a chance still an ace investigator.

    “In String City, the sewer system has a mind of its own. Trouble is, it’s the mind of a serial killer.”

Detectives eh, always with a witty comeback, snarky comment or pithy remark.

Graham Edwards’ latest put me in mind of Simon R Green’s gleefully bonkers Nightside novels and The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen. If you’ve read any of these then String City is going to feel like a treat. We’re transported to a vast metropolis where anything and everything are possible. Where else will you find ancient Greek heroes, with partial memory loss, captaining a boat on a mystical river? Golems rub shoulders with zombie angels and buildings have a tendency to explode unexpectedly. String City feels all encompassing, like a microcosm of the cosmos.

Blending together fantasy, quantum theory and well-established detective tropes creates an evocative adventure that often delights. I’ll be honest, a lot of the sciencey type stuff was a bit over my head but it sure sounded impressive. I’m a simple soul, much like The Gumshoe himself, but my woeful lack of understanding did not detract from the action one iota.

String City is published by Rebellion Publishing and is available now. If you’re looking for some smart hard-bitten detective noir with a cosmically mind-bending chocolatey centre, then you need look no further. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany this oddly wonderful writing is the wonderfully odd album Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes by Liam Sauvé. I can’t even begin to describe what category this soundtrack falls into. All I can tell you is that it dovetails perfectly with the novel. Everything from jingly elevator music to tracks featuring ominous and sinister chords, I rather suspect this album may have originated direct from String City itself.

*It’s like a Swiss Army knife but with more pockets, a nice lining and a couple of sleeves.
Was this review helpful?
String City is where the universe’s different strings come together. Oh, mythological creatures like Zeus, monsters like cyclops and golems, and all manner of strangeness live there too. A world full of infinite possibilities makes some strange bedfellows.

An unnamed private investigator is asked by the Titans to look into an explosion in their casino. He is a stringwalker, one who can move directly along the strings. However, the strings seem unsettled. Could it be the end times?

I wanted to love this as much as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, the explanation of string theory and how the world worked seemed overlong and overly complicated. However, if you are okay with extensive world building, you will like String City. The plot and character interactions are clever. 4 stars!

Thanks to Rebellion Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 40%.
Although I thought the premise of this book was interesting, it fell flat. The whimsical tone of the book was like Terry Pratchett, with the made-up words, the unexplained but seemingly normal insanity, and the somewhat scientific, somewhat magical nature of String City. Many parts of it were funny. But the randomness was slightly over the edge of "humorous" and into "annoying". The main character was well-done, but all of the supporting characters were very thinly developed.
The hardest thing was the pacing. The book rushed through every scene like an action movie, jumping hastily from one thing to the next without any pauses or slow moments. Everything felt frantic and rushed, unexplained, and disjointed.
I think the concept was unique and interesting, but poorly executed.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Raymond Chandler type Gumshoe story set in a city in a universe made of string.  Our hero is fortunate enough  to be able to walk the strings and pass between dimensions.  Its a good enough plot and quite readable but the lack of any credibility  about the physics of this world made me wonder if it had been written by a first year undergraduate in a haze of marijuana.  If you're a Chandler/ Hammet fan with no scientific knowledge you'll probably love it.
Was this review helpful?
I’ll be honest – it took me a while to warm to this one. Initially I wasn’t sure if the Raymond Chandleresque writing worked with all those descriptions of quantum physics, jostling up against the likes of titans, wind gods and robots. In addition, I wasn’t sure if I liked the main character much as he also took some getting used to. I wanted to kick him hard in the shins when he kept calling Zephyr ‘hon’ – even when she asked him not to. However, as we got to know him better, I decided that he was one of the good guys, after all.

While there is an overarching case that our nameless gumshoe is trying to unravel (literally, given the parlous state of the interdimensional strings that hold the city together) the book is made up of a series of mysteries he tries to crack. His assistants vary – sometimes he is alone, sometimes the robot is a sidekick and other times it’s the girl. This variation is a smart move as it stops the various adventures from feeling too similar.

However I can’t discuss this book without referring to the extraordinary worldbuilding – this is Edwards’ writing strength as he weaves a savage world where aspects of quantum physics prevail alongside the Einsteinian type we’re more used to. His flights of imagination are literally mind-boggling and while I initially felt uncomfortable at being tipped into such an odd place, Edwards’ confident depictions persuaded me to suspend my disbelief and relax into the weirdness.

It was very much worth the effort – I thoroughly enjoyed this oddball adventure and recommend it to anyone with a taste for adventure with an unusual twist. While I obtained an arc of String City from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
8/10
Was this review helpful?
The biggest thing I can say about this book is that the world-building is fascinating, intricate and detailed. There is so much going on, that it’s easy to get lost in it. Unfortunately, that’s also where this one fell short for me. The plot was great, interesting and I generally liked the characters, but there was so much going on. I kind of feel like I did a whirlwind tour of String City, and I’m still sitting here with culture shock. 

One of the strengths of this book, is how it stays fairly true to what I would expect from a hard-boiled PI book, while adding in a whole lot of strange. Definitely makes for an interesting twist on a classic, and I definitely think I would read another book set in String City (I mean, I might be acclimatized?)

That’s about all I have to say about it, it just didn’t strike the right chord with me, it was a bit of a struggle to get through the entire book, though there wasn’t anything wrong with it per say, it was just one of those books that I really had to be in the right mood to read. 

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the hard-boiled detective novel, but looking for a dose of strange!
Was this review helpful?
String City is bursting at the seams with an originality that left me in awe of the author’s ability to fit so much into one novel. This is a well-crafted, fast-paced detective story, filled with science fiction and fantasy elements. It’s as though everything from the speculative genres converges in this singularly unique place. The author tackles complicated concepts with ease, diving into interdimensional travel as though it’s second nature. The experience is a wild ride, to be sure, and any descriptions I can provide of the epicness won’t do it justice. Check this one out if you want to marvel at an author’s ability to put imagination behind every word.

Full review at: https://reviewsandrobots.com/2019/03/04/string-city-book-review
Was this review helpful?
“Talking to you is like peeling an onion. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere, it turns out to be just another layer.” Zephyr to the Gumshoe, ‘String City’.

Thank you to Rebellion Publishing/Solaris for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘String City’, an Inter-dimensional thriller by Graham Edwards.

This was a treat for someone like myself who has long enjoyed the ‘hard boiled’ private detective stories penned by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The narrator here is never named and referred to by everyone as ‘gumshoe’.

The setting is String City, an inter-dimensional city populated by gods, creatures of myth and legend, living concepts and all kinds of weird things. Insects and arachnids feature in the story and while I have a real aversion to cockroaches, I grew very fond of the tax beetle that turns up to audit the agency’s accounts at an inconvenient time.

The narrator is a stringwalker, able to use the cosmic strings to move between realities. He also has a unique coat and a crate that he inherited when he bought the business from Jimmy the Griff full of quirky gumshoe gadgets.

When an explosion rocks a casino he is hired by one of its Titan owners to investigate. Yet this apparently simple heist quickly leads to a race to stop the apocalypse. 

‘String City’ is a novel with an Infinite Improbably Drive at its centre. Weird, surrealistic events and characters inhabit its pages. I enjoyed its strangeness even if at times while reading my brain felt turned inside out. I may well read again as I am certain that I missed plenty as it’s so packed with pop culture references and other fun stuff. The humour is very deadpan. 

I found it a highly entertaining mashup with great world-building and certainly scope for further adventures.
Was this review helpful?
“Everything in the universe is made of string. Cosmic string…String City is where the cosmic string gets knotted so tight that all the dimensions kind of fold together.”

A fully imagined and realised setting is an essential component for any novel. It helps provide context and backdrop to the characters and events that comprise the story being told. Sometimes, however, it can evolve into something much more important. Sometimes, a setting becomes such an essential part of a story or character’s identity that it would be impossible to imagine one without the other. Imagine Batman without the gritty, urban nightmare that is Gotham City, Alice going on a journey to somewhere other than Wonderland, or even Winnie the Pooh without Hundred Acre Wood. The setting is so vital to the overall narrative that is an essential part of their DNA and wouldn’t work in any other setting. String City, Graham Edwards’ latest genre-blending work, can surely be added to this list.

Combining elements of science fiction, urban fantasy, film noir, and ancient mythology, Edward’s world-building for String City is nothing short of phenomenal. On his search for the truths behind the various cases that he takes on, our PI protagonist visits a diverse range of districts in the city that were so easy to imagine in great detail while also playing a vital role in the development of the story’s narrative. There was occasion when it was hard to visualise how a newly-introduced district, despite excellent description, was connected to the rest of the city, but I guess that is to be expected when the characters’ modes of travel are so outlandish and fantastic as skipping along the cosmic string that run between different dimensions. However, such feelings of disconnect never lasted long.

Edwards’ wild and imaginative concepts were evident not only in String City’s settings, but also its characters. The city is populated by gods, titans, angels, creatures, ghosts, humans, and god knows what else, all of whom fit into the city and its mechanisms in their own particular ways. The variance in the characters’ dialogue styles was easily apparent and worked effectively to add depth to many of them, in particular the PI, Aeolus, and Arachne. While many of the characters brought a sense of gravity and grit to the story, there were plenty that actually gave a sense of whimsy, bringing a touch of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams to proceedings, which was very effective at creating subtle changes in the tone of the book.

String City is a busy and exciting story with a gargantuan cast of characters and locales that made for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Despite the hectic and busy nature of the book, however, it still feels as though Edwards has barely allowed us to scratch the surface of either String City or indeed the Cosmos it inhabits. So whether they are concerned with the PI, Runefolk, or new characters that didn’t make an appearance this time, I sincerely hope we are treated to more stories from this truly wondrous world.
Was this review helpful?
Super imaginative and original, String City is the centre of the cosmos, where gods, Titans, robots, sentient entities, humans and hamadryads live in (so-called) harmony.

Our protagonist (unnamed - and none the worse for it) is an old school detective in this hustling metropolis. He walks the dimensions and knows more about characters and their mythologies than anyone else, but is thankfully not omnipotent, even if he has a bizarre gadget for every occasion.

The whole novel has a great Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently) and Terry Pratchett feel to it, whilst making regular references to Greek and other mythologies - something I really enjoyed - in a very film noir context.

I was worried it might be hammy, but, actually, I loved it. Certainly stretched the imagination - just roll with it!
Was this review helpful?
A private eye in a city, where string theory is actually a reality and an inter-dimensional place filled with gods, myths and other mind-bending personalities, is always going to have his work cut out for him. When he is “persuaded’ to investigate an explosion at a local casino, a heist gone wrong takes on a whole new meaning for him, involving ancient Greek Titans, an interdimensional spider god and a mysterious creature known as the Fool. Oh yes, and the obligatory dames in distress.

“String City is where the cosmic strange gets knotted so tight that all the dimensions kind of fold together”. Which describes the place in a nutshell and lets you know you’re in for a bit of a mind-stretching read.

There is so much going on conceptually in this novel in terms of theoretical physics, ancient gods, mythical creatures and heists, not to mention the classic noir narrative complete with down at heel scruffy gumshoe (although this one has a front door with singularity locks). Did I mention the fiendishly complicated plot? In other words, an enormous smorgasbord of concepts rammed together in what could have resulted in nothing more than a pile of pretentious drivel. But String City is enormous fun when you get onboard those strings and don’t let the boundary wolves get you. The dialogue is so Chandleresque slick, you can sense the oil dripping off the castors of the storyline.

Each chapter is packed with “stuff” in this all you can eat buffet of worldbuilding. But they are short, allowing you to take a psychological breather before diving into the next action-packed, mind-bending, concentration-demanding episode.

String City is a highly entertaining story with a great deal of humour (check out the bladderwrack plug-in to the weather scanner), cliff-hangers, twists and great characters (R2D2 and C3PO are so last year compared to The Scrutator), which make you think “Wow that was genius. How can Graham Edwards top that?”, and in the next chapter he does.

Definitely on my to-read again list, not only to pick up all the things I missed the first time, but just because I really enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
"What had started as a routine inter-dimensional hop from my office to the Tartarus Club was rapidly turning into a life-or-death struggle."

A rip-roaring gumshoe detective novel - in the vein of Dashiell Hammett - with a breathtaking sci fi setting. This is a thoroughly enjoyable romp.
Was this review helpful?
This is a treat for lovers of SF and Mickey Spillane. Setting the usual "gumshoe" novel within a wildly original alternative universe ought not to work but somehow succeeds magnificently. There is novelty on every page with a running theme of a detective caper that takes you on a roller coaster which never lets up and never gets predictable. Graham Edwards has a truly original imagination.
Was this review helpful?
String City is a high-concept book that will probably only appeal to certain audiences. The world building in this is quite phenomenal, bordering on the utterly bizarre- and it's amazing. 

Our unnamed noir gumshoe lives in String City, where the infinite dimensions that exist in the universe collide. And I mean they COLLIDE. It's a volatile place barely clinging to equilibrium as the different dimensions constantly smash into each other. Until recently, this city filled with Titans, golems, cyclops, and even a sentient sewer managed to tentatively coexist, but as our PI investigates a casino break-in with his new assistant and a robot he soon realizes that all of their worlds are hurtling toward a cataclysmic end. 

What an absurd thrill ride this was, a delightful blend of fantasy, science fiction, mythology, and noir. It's the most unique literary world building I've ever come across. I was hooked from beginning to end and really hope this turns into a series.

My only gripe with it was the never ending arsenal of ill-explained gadgets that got him out of every sticky situation (including actual sticky ones). It was a bit like, "Wait, what has he got now?!" I think this might be where a lot of readers will get lost, trying to make sense of the gobbledygook devices he pulls out of nowhere with no explanation as if we know what they are. 

That aside, this was a lot of fun to read and I really hope there's more. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this in exchange for a review.
Was this review helpful?