Cover Image: Titanium Noir

Titanium Noir

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Member Reviews

What happens when one of the elite Titans is killed?  You call in an expert, of course.  But, no matter how the situation is handled, someone is bound to get offended.  Or dead.  Titanium Noir is funny, acerbic, and so wonderfully reminiscent of classic hardboiled detective fiction you might forget the sci-fi aspects of the story.  Fans of concept fiction will enjoy this immensely.
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I will preface this with the fact that I read a lot of dystopian-specific books, but minimal true sci-fi and this book felt like a great mixture of both. Reading this book felt like watching a movie and I really enjoyed it. I thought the book was well written and I loved the noir detective aspect of it and really liked the characters and the world that the author built!
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In Titanium Noir's society, the elites inject themselves with T7, a drug that turns them into titans. Cal Sounder, a detective who works special cases involving titans, is called in to investigate what seems to be a "routine" murder investigation. However, it becomes apparent that this murder is part of a much larger conspiracy. 

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I really wanted to LOVE it since the book is a mix of my two favorite genres: thriller and sci-fi. It did not meet my expectations, though. There were definitely thriller and sci-fi elements in this book, but the story was a little slow for me. I wish it was written a little different because I think the concept is great. The execution just wasn't my favorite. My favorite parts of the book are probably the sci-fi twist and Cal Sounder's entertaining character. Overall, I recommend this book, but I will say it definitely was not a page-turner for me.
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As the title implies, this is a noir detective story, but with a science fiction angle. Titanium refers to a genetic modification therapy called T7 that heals, extends lifespan, and makes the patient larger than normal (larger with each dose): so, they are referred to as Titans. An interesting idea, with ramifications that the story explores as it goes. And Harkaway's hardboiled detective language is a delight.

Like most good noir stories this one begins with a murder (which looks like suicide at first glance). The victim is a seemingly mild-mannered college professor, and it is only after closer examination that private detective Cal Sounder–who the police call in on special cases–concludes that he was a Titan. Most Titans live ostentatious lifestyles in keeping with their enhanced physical characteristics and long lives and are regarded as almost godlike by many in the normal population. So, a dead Titan is almost unthinkable, and a murdered one is unimaginable. 

Of course, there must be more to the story, and like any good detective Cal starts digging. It being a noir story, answers are hard to find, and powerful people don't seem to want him looking. But he does figure it out. In the middle of his classic confrontation with the perpetrator Cal receives an unexpected visitor, and gets help from an unexpected source when all looks lost. In retrospect, the conclusion may have been preordained, but that does not make it any less surprising. This was my third Harkaway novel, and I am definitely a fan.

Thanks to NetGalley for the Advance Reader's copy.
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This was a lot of fun. Prime summer read. It was quick and had a lot of action. I would recommend it for people who like the genre.
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Novels about hardboiled PIs are not my usual fare but Titanium Noir sounded interesting and I’m so glad I picked it up. Cal Sounder is your typical gumshoe, he gets into fights, plays several parties against each other and mouths off to everyone. The world he inhabits is also pretty familiar: dark streets, kingpins and femme fatales, dingy nightclubs that contrast with the world of the rich and famous… What is definitely not the usual is the sci-fi element: this is a future where a drug can make you immortal and, as a side effect, huge – a Titan. Cal is an unofficial liaison between the police and the Titans. He is an ordinary, unenhanced human himself, but his femme fatale is a Titan. He is hard to dislike and even the Titans are more relatable than huge immortal godlike beings have any right to be. I can’t express how much I enjoyed the witty dialogues, at once familiar and alien. The author integrates the sci-fi element so well, that it’s hard to separate what’s not real. The plot is delightful, full of familiar turns but with a twist. And this is what defines this book the most, it is an awfully original take on a very familiar genre. I kept expecting one thing and getting another. I really loved that ending. 
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, #NetGalley/#Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor!
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This book is a mix of sci-fi, crime, and mystery. 

In this futuristic world, certain humans undergo genetic enhancements and are known as Titans. Bigger, stronger, basically upgraded versions of human beings.

One day a titan turns up dead, which is kind of a bigger deal than an average persons death. Cal, a detective, is tasked with investigating this man’s death. I’m doing so, he uncovers a web of secrets among the entangled lives of various Titans, including his former girlfriend’s powerful father. Uncovering the truth of who this dead Titan is and why he died will ultimately change Cal’s life forever. 

This book was enticing and unique. Unfortunately the climax and resolution weren’t that exciting and left me slightly unsatisfied. I just wanted a bigger wow factor. It was a good book with an ok ending. 

If you like crime thrillers and sci fi books, this one is for you!
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Sometimes taking a chance on an interesting-sounding advance copy of a book pays off, and man, is that ever the case with Nick Harkaway’s Titanium Noir, a hard-boiled detective tale in just enough science fiction to help him make sure that his contemporary parallels don’t distract you from the gripping tale he’s unfolding. What’ll grab you quickly about Titanium Noir is the prose; Harkaway’s police-adjacent detective is a jaded, cynical man, and his clipped narration and snarky banter illustrates that cleanly for us long before Harkaway gives us glimpses - never full explanations - of how he got this way. Indeed, one of the great things about the book is how Harkaway gives us a complex world full of undercurrents - the presence of figures known at Titans, whose power both physical and political is unmissable; the currents of a rich underworld, with a mythic figure at its head; new forms of bars and speakeasies with a very different aim - but never holds our hand through it, letting us infer as much as he can and instead just forcing us to experience it and lose ourself in the world. And lose yourself you will - this is a sharply drawn tale, with a great mystery at its core, but better still, a knockout array of characters - an iron-willed bartender, a slew of underworld connections, and my favorite, that mythic crime boss whose predilection for florid language and talking can’t help but bring to mind Casper Gutman from The Maltese Falcon. I couldn’t put down Titanium Noir once I started - from the fascinating sci-fi-infused noir world to the compelling characters, from the gripping mystery to the tight prose, all the way to a nicely pyrrhic ending that leaves the door open to more, or perhaps just leaves our hero changed forever. In short, it’s a knockout read, and the fact that I now have Harkaway’s other books to go through? Even better.
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“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”  Yes, that’s a perfectly chiseled line from narrator Philip Marlow in Raymond Chandler’s iconic The Big Sleep. With this in mind, have you been hanging at the noir bar for decades, waiting for a refill? You are in luck my friend, author Nick Harkaway’s Titanium Noir is a sci fi/classic detective noir mashup, a combo that has worked well since the original Blade Runner movie. And Harkaway puts his own narrative stamp on it by summoning the wonderfully witty hard-bitten musings of Cal Sounder, an investigator, sometimes detective, and “external contractor” to the overworked PD.  Cal’s specialty is the grey place that falls between the luxuriant land of dreams, Chersenesos, and everything surrounding it that is not Chersenesos, gritty, rundown and just hanging on.  

Harkaway gleefully details a post WW2 urban playground has morphed into the not too distant future; where the division between the have and have nots goes beyond magnificent real estate, brimming bank accounts, and breathtakingly expensive toys.  It’s also in the bones, blood and skin of the Titans, a limited edition of the vetted uber rich who have been injected with T7, a shape-altering concoction, which creates a legion of near immortal gigantic humans, all chosen by the kingpin of kingpins, Stefen Tonfamecasca.  Cal has a long history with them. 

Like any noir story worth its whiskey, the dialog is snappy and sparse, the characters, and there are many of them, indelible, cynical and well-sketched, from Athena, the statuesque former love of Cal’s life and current Titan, to Vic, the fierce owner of a nightclub that features a full bar of everything illicit and dangerous, to the unexpected gasp-worthy appearance of an urbane urban legend who definitely has a Marvel universe flair.   The settings are as varied and vivid as the characters, near ideal foils for the turns of the serpentine plot.  

Of course it starts with a murder, this one involving a victim bursting with contradictions, Roddy Tebbit, a nerd Titan, who is a genteel introverted biologist that teaches at a well-heeled university; he also has a penchant for nightclubs and female companionship.  Since it involves a Titan, Cal is called in and thus begins the lone wolf investigator’s lot, the one we know and love so well; it will lead him to several merciless beatings, a few dead bodies, some bright red herrings, the Titan’s origin story, a long lost romance with a kicker of a resolution, and some very fraught relationships with both the Titans and the police.  

Come for the premise, stay for the pitch perfect execution and the zeal, humor and mordant fun that Harkaway brings to a nice neighborhood with bad habits. Recommended as a high proof story to toss back after a long day.  My thanks to NetGalley and Knopf for an arc of this book.
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I love good science fiction reads as well as detective noir books. Titanium Noir checked both boxes for me and it didn't disappoint.

In the near dystopian future, Cal Sounder is a consultant to the police. Whenever there is an unusual case, he is called in so when a murder victim turns out to be a Titan, it's right up Cal's alley. There are only a few thousand Titans in the world and who becomes one is tightly controlled by Stefan Tonfamecasca and his family. The victim, one Roddy Tebbit, is a relatively newly-made Titan and a seemingly unlikely candidate. In addition to their long lives, Titans are hard to harm, much less murder so Cal is confronted with an ostensibly impossible case. As he begins to delve into Roddy's life, more questions than answers occur and all roads lead back to the powerful Stefan Tonfamecasca, a showdown Cal wants to avoid.

I loved this cross-genre story with its snappy dialogue and the spunky Cal Sounder. Cal is a reluctant hero and one who is easy to root for. This is a complex plot with twists and a surprisingly thought-provoking turn: if you could achieve near immortality, would you? It is fast-paced with prose that is both atmospheric and retro. Harkaway did an excellent job of blending genres, the result of which is a near-perfect venture into a future full of dangers and moral dilemmas. 

Thank you, NetGalley and Knopf for an advance copy for review. The publication date is May 16, 2023.
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I have always liked the noir subgenre of sci-fi and this book scratched that itch admirably. It has all of those tropes you need - the private detective/not quite a cop, the femme fatale, the bosses (of both crime and business), the violence, and the dystopian city setting that ties it all together. Not quite perfect, but kept me engaged until the very end. An enjoyable read.  4.5 stars.
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"I’m tired, the way you can only be tired if you have a hole in you that should not be there, and when the car pulls up and a voice says “at your disposal, Mr. Sounder,” I get in without really thinking about it. Then a man gets in next to me and I feel something hard and metallic dig in under my ribs, the muzzle finding an easy resting place right against the bone. The car pulls out into traffic and onto the expressway.

“Ow,” I say, because the front sight is poking my putty lattice. It hurts, but it’s also amazing because it’s scratching the itch. It doesn’t count as scratching if someone puts a gun in your stomach. My torso twists before I can stop it, pressing back and forth against the barrel.

“Aaaaahhhhhh thank you, that’s good.”"

Cal Sounder is a detective that only deals with the special cases. And his next case is definitely that. He is tasked with investigating a murder, and realizes the victim is 7 feet tall and looks surprisingly young for 90. He can only be a Titan.

Titans have been genetically engineered to be bigger and stronger. And they're almost all controlled by the corrupt Stefan Tomfamescasa, who also happens to be the father of Cal's ex girlfriend. As Cal investigates he gets dragged into a complicated mystery.

This was a solid mix of sci Fi and thriller. I loved the humor and world building but the mystery was definitely the weakest part of the story for me.

Overall 3.5 stars

Thank you netgalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage and Anchor for giving me an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A completely enjoyable romp. It takes a minute to get acclimated to the world in which we find ourselves, but once settled, it's a great ride. Great plotting, unpredictable twists and turns, and well drawn characters. Highly recommend.  I would love to see more books in this world.  Not necessarily a series but same world like Abby Jimenez does.
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Titanium Noir is an expert blend of my two favorite genres, science fiction and noir. Taking place in an ill defined city in what may be the near future, the book tells the story of Cal Sounder, a private investigator who assists the police in “sensitive” cases. He’s given the job of investigating the murder of a man who is also a Titan,  who received T7 therapy that makes the patient younger but also much larger and stronger, at times to save their lives. Not everyone can receive the therapy, and those who are wealthy and live extended lives.

The novel is narrated in the style of the old classic 1940s mysteries, Sounder is the same type of tired and imperfect investigator from those novels, and is very well written. The other characters are interesting and well developed. The plot, which can get involved at times, moves along quickly and decisively. It was very hard to put the book down, and it kept my interest throughout my reading.

Highly recommended.

My thanks to Netgalley and to Knopf for providing an ARC of this very entertaining read.
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A twisty, sci-fi, noir with a classic old school detective navigating the tricky world of the elite to solve a murder. All the hallmarks of a classic noir thriller put an interesting spin on science fiction. There is a comic book style underworld boss, the rich villains, and even a love interest. Highly recommended!
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Local Detective Investigates Murder of Elite Titan. In other news, Harpo Marx is trending…..

Book Information

Titanium Noir was written by Nick Harkaway. It will be published on May 26, 2023, and is 256 pages. Harkaway has been described variously as 'J. G. Ballard’s geeky younger brother', 'William Makepeace Thackerary on acid' and 'a British mimetic speculative godgame novelist'. Thanks to Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for providing me with an advanced reader copy for review.


Cal Sounder, a detective known for working on sensitive cases, is called in to investigate a homicide at a local apartment. The victim, a Titan - one of the genetically-altered elites, is over seven feet tall and appeared to be a typical techie at first glance. On closer inspection, he is found to be ninety years old despite looking no older than thirty, clearly a result of the T7 genetic therapy. The victim's murder is not only big news but also an unimaginable crime.

Titans are Cal's specialty. Only a few thousand Titans exist worldwide, with the Tonfamecasca family among the most elite thanks to their discovery of the T7 therapy. As it happens, Cal’s ex-girlfriend, Athena, is a Titan and the daughter of Stefan Tonfamecasca, the head of the Tonfamecasca empire.

As Cal delves deeper into the investigation, it becomes evident that the roots of the crime run deep and threaten to shatter his world and the lives of those around him.

My Thoughts

Nick Harkaway’s Titanium Noir is a gripping crime thriller that takes readers on a thrilling journey through a futuristic world. Set in a society where the super-wealthy enjoy immortality through the use of a powerful drug called T7, the story follows Cal Sounder, a freelance investigator for the police, as he delves into the murder of a Titan.

Harkaway skillfully employs the classic crime genre tropes, but with a fresh and captivating twist. His writing style exudes noir, bringing to life the shadows and grit of the story's setting. It is a unique and fascinating blend of tech and noir that the author flawlessly executes.

The mystery is well-crafted, and the characters are well-developed and engaging. The book takes us on a thrilling journey from opulent, affluent locations to the seediest bars and life-and-death cage matches. The world-building is excellent, and the story keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Overall, Titanium Noir is a quick and entertaining read that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. The author's ability to create a futuristic world that is both intriguing and believable is a testament to his writing talent. It is a very solid pick for fans of the crime and thriller genre.


If you're a fan of both noir and science fiction, you're bound to love this book. But even if you're not, you will still likely enjoy it. Give it a read.


4 Titanium Stars
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Middle of the road for me. A strange but decent read. At times there was just too much going on at once, with not enough details for the reader. The overall story was good but the plot was predictable.
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Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC for an honest review.

I have to say, right off the top, that I really liked the book. It was a refreshing and adult read. There was no need for deep exposition, no long backstory, it was left to the reader to keep up with the story.

This is a classic detective novel, with some techno future scifi pieces thrown in. It wasn't earth shakingly revolutionary, but it had new elements to a classic formula. Grizzled, private detective, outside the elite, but with connections. A murder.

The writing was tight, the characters were well described, and I was pulled into the story. I won't give any more details other than, definitely one to read!
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Nick Harkaway's Titanium Noir is a dazzling blend of science fiction and hardboiled detective fiction that will leave readers breathless. In a dystopian near-future society where genetically-altered elites known as Titans hold immense power and wealth, detective Cal Sounder is called to investigate the murder of one of these powerful figures. But as he delves deeper into the case, Cal realizes that the roots of the crime go much deeper than he ever imagined.

Harkaway's prose is sharp and evocative, painting a vivid picture of this unsettling world and its larger-than-life characters. The blend of futuristic technology and old-fashioned detective work is seamless, and readers will be swept up in the twists and turns of the plot. But perhaps most impressive is Harkaway's exploration of the themes of power, wealth, and inequality in society, as well as the lengths to which people will go to maintain their status.

But perhaps most notable is the novel's inclusion of queer characters and relationships. Cal Sounder himself is gay, and his former lover Athena is not only a Titan but also the daughter of one of the most powerful families in this society. Harkaway deftly weaves these elements into the story, never making them feel shoehorned in but instead making them an integral part of the characters' identities and motivations.

In short, Titanium Noir is a stunning achievement in genre-blending and storytelling. Harkaway has crafted a world and a cast of characters that will stay with readers long after the final page. Highly recommended for fans of science fiction, detective fiction, and anyone looking for an engaging and thought-provoking read.
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This book is the greatest combination of Raymond Chandler's crime fiction meets film noir detective movies, with a plotline reminiscent of Del Toro's Strain series and the entertaining, dry-witted, sarcastic tone of Guy Ritchie's movies.

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 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. What's more, he is ninety years old, a fact that raises questions about the therapy's effectiveness.

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.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for sharing this digital review copy with me in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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