Cover Image: Titanium Noir

Titanium Noir

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Member Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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🕵️‍♂️ 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I love a good mystery novel. I also love anything in the genre of noir. The book, Titanium Noir, combines the two beautifully. 

Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway is a murder mystery that takes place in a futuristic time where society’s elite can be injected with a substance called T7.

The miracle drug, T7, is able to cure whatever ails you, even old age. The drug can increase a person’s lifespan for an extremely long time with just one dose. It increases the recipient’s strength and bone density, but most importantly size.

Cal Sounder, the detective that the police department calls, when they have a “sensitive“ case, is summoned  to help with a murder of a person of interest who is taller than most. To say any more would be giving away plot spoilers.

Titanium Noir drew me into its web of intrigue almost immediately. Cal Sounder is a likable character who does not mince words to find the truth, and speaks plainly to anyone, regardless of social status. I like that. 

I found myself imagining that I was working alongside Nick to dodge every obstacle thrown his way. 

The world that Nick Harkaway built is very believable, reminding me of New York or Chicago. Details like the places to eat add depth and reality. I had a bit of a crush on Cal.

The miracle drug, T7, is my kind of drug. It is able to cure ailments, and extend someone’s lifespan. I wish it was actually available to work its magic, while making the recipient taller. As a 4-foot, 11-inch woman with autoimmune issues, it makes me love this book even more. Oh, the possibilities! Like all drugs, there may be a bit of an addiction side effect. Still…

Cal and the police department work well together. You don’t find that in many noir novels. It makes the characters more believable and not just words on a page - and I like that sense of camaraderie.

The tension that spans the entire book, along with the dark humor in the storytelling keeps you engaged. Plus, everyone is a wisecracker and that made the noir part of my heart happy.
The smokey haze filled rooms, the larger-than- life (literally) corpse, a detective full of angst, love, intrigue, money, drugs and death… This heart-stopping book has all the elements of noir that I love, but with a futuristic twist.

I am hoping that Mr. Harkaway has plans for a sequel to this book. I can’t wait to discover the next chapter in Cal Sounder’s life.
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Another fine novel by Harkaway.  The story is a great blend of sci-fi, gumshoe detective story and romance and was a page turner for me from beginning to end.  The characters will stay with me for a long time and I will be looking at people of great size and wondering “Is that a Titan?”
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This is such a fun read that takes place in a unique setting. The story line definitely kept me guessing. The main character was developed really well. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an ARC.
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Published by Knopf on May 16, 2023

A hard-boiled crime solver is a standard ingredient in noir fiction. That role in Titanium Noir is played by Cal Sounder. He works in a private capacity to help the police or shady characters investigate crimes. Some of the shady characters are Titans. Not titans of industry, necessarily, although they generally need substantial wealth to become Titans. They are characters who resemble the Titans of Greek mythology.

Titans extend their lifespans with an expensive drug called T7. The drug rejuvenates by reverting cells to their pre-puberty state, then fast forwards the body to adulthood while adding muscle mass and bone density. Each dose adds to a Titan’s size but the treatment creates a risk of memory loss. By the fourth dose, Titans labor to breathe.

Cal visits a crime scene where Roddy Tebbit appears to have shot himself in the head. Roddy is a one-dose Titan, seven-foot-eight and 91 years old despite resembling a hale man of 50. Giles Gatton, the police chief, invites Cal to investigate because Titan deaths tend to be political and the cops want to avoid publicity. On the other hand, Titans often hire Cal because they don’t think the police take their deaths seriously.

Cal doesn’t believe the death is a suicide. When he asks how Roddy, a scientist who doesn’t come from money, could have become a Titan, the answers seem false. Roddy’s past is elusive. He was involved with a woman who works in the kind of club where women entertain without clothing. After Cal wins a cage fight for a chance to interview the woman, she’s killed in an assassination that nearly takes out Cal.

Faced with more questions than answers, Cal suspects that Roddy left behind a secret. Those suspicions are confirmed when two competing Titans — a four-dose giant named Stefan Tonfamecasca and a big guy known as Doublewide — insist that Roddy find the secret and bring it to them. The secret turns out to be stored in a strange place. Cal isn’t sure that either of the Titans should have it — at least not before he reviews the information that Roddy took such trouble to protect.

Nick Harkaway relies on the sarcastic prose and dark atmosphere of noir to tell the story. Substitute underworld figures who are shagging each other’s wives for Titans who extend their lives with T7 and you’d come up with a similar plot. Cal is sort of dating a woman named Athena, whose one-dose mother has a backstory that becomes critical to the plot. Like stories from Greek mythology, family drama informs the story.

Harkaway exploits the classic noir theme of the wealthy versus the rest of us, the privileged class versus the servant class, to make the story relatable to those of us who aren’t privileged. Big guys bullying smaller guys is another theme, with the smaller guy (Cal) managing to use wits to defeat brute force. All of this is entertaining even if the noir sometimes seems forced. Marrying the future to the 1940s (Cal even calls himself a gumshoe) is a contrivance that always seems on the verge of collapsing into silliness. I give Harkaway credit for pulling it off, all the way to an ironic and surprising finish.

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This is a different mystery, sci fi mix, which I enjoyed. My rating 4.5.

Cal is a detective with a specialty in “sensitive” cases that involve Titans. Titans are genetically altered elites who go through a process that makes them larger than normal humans. These people have enough wealth to obtain the medicine, surgery, and treatment that is necessary to survive the transition to giant status. Cal is familiar with the Titans because his ex-girlfriend, Athena is the Titan daughter of the head to the Titan’s, Stefan Tonfamescasca, who discovered the genetic therapy that allows the procedure.

It is very rare to find a dead Titan as they can usually get the treatments necessary to regenerate their bodies. So to find a murdered Titan is remarkable. Cal has been called into the investigation of a death that appears, at first, to be a suicide. But Cal isn’t so quick to accept appearances and he is prepared to dig even if it ruffles the tempers of the highest Titans. Needless to say, Cal soon finds himself facing assassination attempts.

This is a twisty, sci fi murder mystery. It is more complex and intense than a cozy mystery and took attention to follow. I liked Cal’s character with his determination and resistance to Athena’s invitations to become a Titan himself. The interesting world of the Titans and the twists of the mystery kept me glued to the story. I am impressed with the high level or writing and would be interested to read more by this author. I recommend this to readers who like an intense mystery woven with sci fi elements.

Source 3/4/2023 NetGalley.
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Very fun book - definitely Chandler meets PKD.  Snappy dialogue and good plot. Serves as a fantastic homage to the old hard boiled detective novel.  Early running for my favorite book of 2023.
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I had such a fun time with this book! The futuristic sci-fi universe was really unique and interesting and the noir mystery aspect was fun and kept me guessing. The main character was really well developed and complex for such a relatively short book and I loved his voice/personality. And I have to say I do love that quintessential noir bittersweet ending, that almost Pyrrhic victory.
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