Cover Image: Titanium Noir

Titanium Noir

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Member Reviews

A murder-mystery that needs to be solved by a gumshoe detective, but in a near-future techno/cyber world? Yes, sign me up! A wonderfully structured plausible society built on the techno have/have nots. Good set up, great characters and a satisfying conclusion.
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Thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.

Tapping out at ~40% on this one. I read Gnomon when it came out and found it to be right in my wheelhouse in terms of genre/playfulness, but a little frustrating/too clever for its own good. With that in mind, I was interested to read another book by Harkaway that was more concise and focused, but it turns out something about all the noir flavoring here really just isn't my thing. Perhaps it will be yours!
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Titanium Noir brings together two of my favorite genres, Mystery and SciFi. In Nick Harkaway's skillful hands, the story of murder and mayhem joined with Science Fiction/futuristic villainy produces a story that pulls the reader along at speed until the satisfying ending.
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This book was just a delight to read. Sharp, funny and so snarky. I love noir and this is definitely noir mixed with super heroes. These Titans are definitely more The Boys than Superman and that is perfect too. I'm kind of thinking this is a one-off, which is a shame because I would love to spend more time with these characters. Highly recommend.
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If there’s one fusion of genres I’ve come to appreciate a great deal in the last couple of years it’s science fiction and noir. It’s not a new genre, having roots going back 30+ years, but it’s new to me. The first novel I read with this kind of flavor to it was last year’s The Paradox Hotel, which I absolutely couldn’t put down (just like this book), rated five stars (just like this book), and which occupies a well-deserved spot on my crowded bookshelves (which this book does as well, thanks to Knopf and Penguin Random House). There’s something about the cold, implacable march of science with its empirical laws and rules of evidence and the cool, calm facade of a detective who has their own laws and rules of evidence to follow that simply creates a fascinating, mutually beneficial relationship that can result in some of the most fascinating stories about the human condition. Titanium Noir is a story that has a lot of story to tell and most of it isn’t pretty, but all of it is about some kind of love. 

No noir novel is complete without a socioeconomic divide (in this case, a river and lake divide one side from the other–the rich and the not-rich). In the world of Titanium Noir, money doesn’t only mean you live in nicer houses and have better healthcare. It also means you might just make enough money to become a Titan. Not a titan of industry, but one of a select number of people who can afford to be injected with a genetic therapy formula called T7, which will rewind and repair all damage time or injury has inflicted on you. A literal bodily reset. The monetary cost is astronomical. Changes to your body? Yeah, there’s some of those too. You won’t ever be the same again and people will never look at you the same way again. You’re a Titan now, and there’s power in merely being you. The power exchange is too great to overcome now. 

Our protagonist, Cal Sounder, is a private detective on paper. In reality, he walks the thin line between the police and the Titans. He looks into things on the Titan’s side of the fence for the police from time to time and he looks into things on the poorer side of town for the Titans from time to time. This time around, he’s been retained by the police as a consultant on a case a little too hot for them to handle: A Titan has been murdered. 

The worldbuilding in this book is simply great. Take the gritty, icy streets of Chicago in winter and marry it to the neon city you’d see in an anime like Ghost in the Shell or Akira, and that’s the feel I got from the book. Crazy nightclubs, dirty dive bars, weird socialist social clubs, fusion restaurants, an elite university, a multinational conglomerate, apartment buildings, and a pig farm. This book visits a great many locales, all different from one another and fascinating in their own way given the landscape. 

Cal has that same cool, implacable facade of a practiced detective, but with far more leeway than a badge. His morals are a lot more flexible, too. That’s why he’s good at his job. He’s an enigmatic and charismatic character. He’s far more than he seems and capable of far more than you’d be able to discern, but it’s not until the book puts him into a situation that you get to see that Cal Sounder is a man of quick reflexes, wit, resources, and more. He has the trademark cynicism and wariness that comes from being surrounded by criminals and death as a profession, but he has one bright thing in his life and he keeps going, knowing she’s still around and waiting. 

The dialogue in this book is amazing. It’s all over the place in tone, just like human conversation should be, but you can read the shifts in tone as if they were being spoken and not written. It has razor-sharp wit, barbed sarcasm, tired musings over cups of bitter coffee, weary late-night conversations, exasperated arguments in hallways and alleyways, demented and dislocated words and phrases uttered under pain and duress, words softly spoken by soft lamplight in the late hours, and pessimistic rants from exhausted cops expressed at all hours of night and day. 

The plot is engrossing from the start, leaving the book an absolute page-turner you can’t put down. It absolutely feels like you can’t stop reading, because you never know when something bonkers, bloody, revelatory, or just plain interesting is going to happen. The book just keeps moving because Cal just keeps on moving. Unless he’s hurt. Then he stops for a minute. 

The ending might surprise you. It might not. I loved the ending, even though I guessed who the killer was. Keep in mind that the ending and the killer are two separate things. This is a story about love, after all. It’s just about different kinds of love. The killer and the ending are not about the same kinds of love. No matter what, though, this book is absolutely a killer read. 

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. I also received a physical early review copy of this book from Knopf and Penguin Random House as part of their influencer program (thank you). All opinions, thoughts, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you.

File Under: 5 Star Read/Crime Fiction/Crime Thriller/Dystopian Fiction/Murder Thriller/Mystery/Noir/Science Fiction
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This is one of the best genre busting stories I've read in quite awhile.  scifi, fantasy, thriller, fiction, whatever you want to call it, it's a great read.  Nick Harkaway definitely gives us the noir part, it reads as one of the older detective novels, but with some very modern twists and turns.  The development of the Titans is a unique take on the upper class' attitudes with quite a bit of snark thrown in for good measure.  The community and supporting characters each add a distinctive "something" to the story, a sure sign of a skillful writer who knows how to get us hooked.  His work is definitely different from anyone else.  See for yourself.....
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Utterly fantastic!  Futuristic gumshoe with ultra rich, power hungry giants, a seedy underground, and a tender romantic tangle.  It started a little slow for me, but took off with a bang and I couldn't get through it fast enough.
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This book was a fantastic mix of sci-fi and mystery. I really enjoyed the world building and the characters were entertaining. 

I love that we learn about the world through Cal Sounder's investigation into what happened to Roddy. It was a great way to introduce the world slowly without getting bogged down in details early on. I also appreciated the social commentary on the wealth and class gaps. Cal's sarcasm and banter made the book for me. The ending was a little predictable but there were a lot of enjoyable twists to get there. 

I'd definitely recommend this book to sci-fi fans looking for a detective story.
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Excellent read.  Lives up to the term noir - while reading I felt like I was living in a black, white and grey world.  I think I even saw Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at one point.

Cal Sounder is a P.I. good with his fists, always knows what's up and since this is noir, cracks wise (not wisecracks) at the drop of a hat.  He has special clients that have him do special jobs for them.  And this one's a doozy.

Excellent world building and great plot.  And Cal is a great protagonist.  I could not stop thinking about this book and can't wait to read more about Cal Sounder.

5 stars - no hesitation.
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I've started this book 3 times before finally finishing. As excited I was to read, it wasn't for me. The writing was choppyand disjointed. It didn't have that necessary flow. The characters was written in a weird way. I just couldn't get into this book. There were certain areas that made no sense. Even though this waa a 'short' read, a few chapters could have been eliminated. Not sure what the target audience was for the book. It's safe to say I wasn't it.

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Nick Harkaway isn't very prolific, but all of his novels, including this one, are worth reading. In Titanium Noir he perfectly catches the voice of noir fiction - the "mean streets" and corrupt wealthy and shady cops and crimes fueled by various combinations of the seven deadly sins - while developing a first-rate detective hero and bringing the genre up to date. There is none of the nostalgia that plagues so many tough-guy detective stories.

And he also creates an extremely interesting near-future world, one in which our billionaire overlords have literally become larger-than-life demigods. I hope Harkaway has more stories set in this world.
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The "noir" part of Titanium Noir is here for you in spades—a quintessential hard-boiled private investigator thriller, with organized crime, loads of violence, and plenty of dames who are bad news. The mystery wasn't that interesting but obviously it also wasn't as integral as all the fist fights and corrupt cops and clandestine meetings available in the solving. The "sci-fi" aspect of the story—secrets of immortality unlocked for select few, very wealthy or connected people can become younger but for *science reasons* this makes them physically larger and denser—mostly had me chuckling throughout. Would make at LEAST as good a movie as that one where everyone stayed young but had a watch that killed them when they ran out of money, and I bet you could get plenty of equally terrible puns out of the whole situation to boot.
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In a near-future dystopia, Cal Sounder is a detective who is called in for the PD on "special" cases. However, when he shows up to the crime scene, he's surprised by the routineness of the murder. But this is not what it seems, as the murdered techie, is a Titan, a genetically altered elite. A dead Titan would be big news but a murdered one? That's just plain unheard of and it's right up Cal's alley. As the murder investigation intensifies, Cal begins to figure out what should have been a straightforward case, and it becomes clear he’s on the trail of a crime whose roots run deep into the dark heart of the world.
Hoping this is the start of a series!

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Knopf for this e-arc.*
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I don't read a lot of noir as I'm not interested in dark, gritty, or depressing, and noir can be all three.

But the SF element drew me. The writing is a tour-de-force. Such tight, descriptive, stylish prose, blending noir and Blade Runner-esque mean streets with a SFnal overlay. What kept me going was Cal Sounder's sardonic humor, as well as the sense that he was a good person at the substrate. 

Drugs is at the center of the crime/mystery, in this case one that can make "superhuman." To solve the case, Cal not only has to follow clues, but listen to the way people at the bottom of the heap view their world, which was especially well done. 

But don't start this one late at night--the pacing starts frenetic from the gitgo and does not let up!
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An interesting, gritty, and kind of bizarre (in a good way) take on the hard-boiled detective novel, with a very astute, blunt, sardonic main character and overall voice.  Cal Sounder's intelligent approach to this most unusual murder investigation (which the reader is just dropped into without preamble) is used to examine broader issues that don't just apply to the futuristic world of the novel, but to ours as well, sadly, like wealth gaps, the privileges that money can buy (including immortality in one sense or another), greed, abuse, and accountability.  These themes come together with the threads of the murder investigation to create very satisfying twists towards the end, at least some of which I definitely did not see coming.

Something I also enjoyed was the use of urban legends to build the complexity of the investigation.  This is not something I've really seen deployed in the crime fiction that I've read.  It serves as an opportunity to hear from the everyday people of this world, as well as a point of contrast to the rich people's narratives and what the truth of the matters really were in the end.  It also makes a excellent point on how stories are truly dynamic; the narrative grows and changes, or is twisted, depending on your point of view, with the passage of time.

Overall, this was an excellent book, and the nature of this world and the story makes me wonder if there will be more novels set in this universe.  That would certainly be interesting indeed.
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Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway is set in the near future where gene therapy can drastically chnage human existence.

"Cal Sounder is a consultant working with the police on a murder. But not just any murder - it looks like a Titan has been killed. Titans are people changed by the prohibitively expensive T-7 gene therapy. Each dose makes them bigger and closer to immortality. This victim is over 7-feet tall. Others are even bigger. And some of the wealthiest people on the planet. Cal will have to tread carefully to find a killer."

This book is written partly in Crime Noir style. It is gritty crime fiction at times. The world of Titans is unreal. We've all seen at least one 7-footer. Can you imagine a person that's 12-feet tall? There's also a character named Double-Wide that sounds wild.
Cal pushes until he gets the answers he wants. He's not really a nice guy, but he recognizes that. Especially when he is forced into a cage match. 
I did not guess the killer or how the story would evolve. It was nice to see an author go in an atypical direction. You probably won't guess the ending either.
This story reminded me of Hench from Natalie Walschots and Chosen Ones from Veronica Roth. Not the stories but the worlds that are almost believable.

An entertaining read and great character from Harkaway.
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Special thanks to Knopf, and Netgalley for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Titanium Noir is hard boiled PI story set at some point in the future where humans are able to genetically modify themselves to reverse age. The process causes humans to grow larger, become stronger, faster, tougher, and thus the Titans are born. Cal Sounder is someone who handles cases involving Titan's thanks to his personal relationship with the family who created and owned the technology. When a Titan is found dead in their apartment a case begins that will lead Cal to some hard truths and revelations related to those he knows and to the heart of the company that creates Titans.

This books is a noir story through and through. The dialogue is unique and crisp, the banter hard and efficient. The city remains unnamed, only ever the city. There are criminal undergrounds, membership only clubs of debauchery, power, corruption, and our man investigator finding themselves more and more in over their head. Lover of noir will find a lot to love in this quick, efficient story. 

The mystery itself revolves around a murder made to look like a suicide that uncovers family struggle, turmoil, and buried secrets from the past. The mystery at the heart of the story is intriguing enough and our main protagonist meets a rogues gallery of quirky, interesting characters along his path to solving the crime.

Sci-Fi fans might be a little disappointed. Very few things are explained in depth. The world building is scant, opting for the lived in feel where the reader is thrown right into the story and asked to tread water. The reader might find it a little difficult at the beginning as they get used to the sharp dialogue, the pacing and mannerisms of noir, and the lack of in depth explanations. The main core story itself is your standard noir story. There isn't really any new ground being broken here. It would have been nice to spend more time in the world, fleshing out our main character, his past, and the world in which he moves through.

Overall, it's a quick, efficient, fun read that gives a satisfying resolution and doesn't over stay its welcome. It would even be nice to maybe see Cal in the future. If you like gritty, PI stories with a compelling lead, check it out.
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3.5 stars

This was a cross between a hardboiled detective novel and a sci-fi pseudo-dystopian novel. I enjoyed the writing and the pacing, and the plot was different and interesting enough to keep me invested. I enjoyed trying to puzzle out the culprit(s), as well as what Cal's next steps would be. The story is told in first person from Cal's point of view, but despite the solid writing, I never felt emotionally attached to Cal. I'm not sure if it's because the book was so short or if it was just something with the writing style. Still, despite the lack of an emotional attachment to Cal, I did feel invested in him surviving the whole ordeal and figuring out what happened to the murder victim. I'd be interested in reading other books by this author.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley and the publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I think the noir-sci fi mash up distracted each from the other.  A great story, does a good job asking why some people are "haves" at the cost of the "have-nots".
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This is a fantastic novel with all the elements of a hard boiled detective novel, a noir whodunnit and the originality and ingenuity to back it up. The writing is direct and cutting making it absolutely perfect for this kind of story. The plot is original and driving. The best thing, however, are the characters. Every single character springs to life in your mind and is exactly as it should be.
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