Friday, May 30, 2014

9tail Fox: Jon Courtenay Grimwood

These excerpts from a brief review by Eric Brown at the Guardian describe this novel very well:
In Jon Courtenay Grimwood's previous eight novels, he has examined how the lives of everyday people are warped by the corrupting influences of power. 9Tail Fox explores the same theme while successfully tackling the contemporary thriller, and in Bobby Zha, Grimwood has created his most complex, fully rounded character. The novel opens with Sergeant Zha of the San Francisco Police Department investigating the shooting of an intruder at an exclusive Russian Hill mansion...
Zha is not the nicest of men, but the story of his redemption is expertly handled, as is the seedy, cynical world of police politics. 9Tail Fox begins as detective procedural, hints at becoming occult horror, and finishes triumphantly as a novel of character. 
Going into this novel, I knew that it was a blend of fantasy and police procedural and that the "dead cop must solve his own murder," which is stated clearly on the cover of the edition I read. The subtitle also says "A novel of science fiction" but my son and husband, who had both read the book, felt that it fit in the fantasy genre, and I agree. This is the third book I have read for Once Upon a Time  VIII.


Beyond the facts above, I don't want to describe more of the plot of this book. It is a mystery with paranormal elements. I know that there are readers who don't like their mystery mixed with the supernatural. I do recommend this book to those who are interested in trying a different but still very fulfilling mystery.

This is a noir thriller with brutal elements, and a story of a journey of a man to understanding himself and his isolation from others. I enjoyed the book as much for the personal story of Bobby Zha as for the mystery. The story has great pacing. The plot does get very convoluted, with flashbacks to earlier events (Stalingrad in 1942, a flight from New York to San Francisco). The writing was compelling. I did not get the happy ending I wanted but the kind of happy ending I was looking for would not have been consistent or as effective.

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Publisher:  Night Shade Books, 2007. Orig. pub. 2005.
Length:  259 pages
Format:  Trade paperback
Setting:  Near future San Francisco, Chinatown.
Genre:  Sci fi / Fantasy / Mystery

10 comments:

  1. Hmm.... not sure now as it does have elements that appeal. I'll have to set up a maybe list.

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    1. Col, it would be gritty enough for you, if you could get past the supernatural elements. But then, you have enough to read.

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  2. Tracy - I have to admit I'm not one for the supernatural in crime novels. But I do like police procedurals.... Hmmmm....

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    1. For me, Margot, this really did not read like a fantasy at all. But I can understand your reluctance if you don't like supernatural stuff in a mystery.

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  3. Tracy, what an unusual title. It has all the elements that I like in a book. I guess it helps when you're open to reading all kinds of stuff. Grimwood is a new writer for me.

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    1. Prashant, it is an unusual title and an unusual story, but I did like it a lot. Grimwood was new to me too, but I will be looking for more of his books.

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  4. Interesting. If I didn't have too many books to read I would be very tempted by this one as a taste of the unusual and because of that great title.

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    1. I totally understand about too many books to read, Moira. I am so frustrated because I have so many books I want to read right now. It is a great title. Everyone in my family (the three of us) liked it a lot. And we all have different tastes.

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  5. For some bizarre reason, while I'm reading your review, I kept thinking of a book I reviewed years ago. I'm not sure they have a ton in common, but you may like Dante's Journey by JC Marino.

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    1. Ryan, I looked up Dante's Journey and it does sound similar. I will look into that one more. Thanks for telling me about it.

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