“The Grand Dark”: Kadrey’s latest is a noir, dieselpunk masterpiece that’s timely as hell
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Regular readers will know Richard Kadrey (previously) from his bestselling Sandman Slim series, but as much as I love those books, I think I love his latest, “The Grand Dark” — a noir/dieselpunk novel set in a fictionalized weimar city in a brief, hectic interwar period — even more.
As I write in my LA Times review of The Grand Dark: “If you read Sandman Slim, you know that Kadrey can do hard-boiled like nobodys business, like a Tom Waits ballad in novel form. And you know that he can do plot like hell, a fast-burning, violent and relentless storytelling mode that propels his gentleman loser antiheroes along with great energy, in the face of adversity, beatings and impossible odds.”
Kadrey’s latest tugs on so many timely threads about inequality and automation, forever wars and authoritarianism, environmental degradation and urbanism, all while thundering along like the first-rate adventure novel it is, steeped in so much wickedness that it’s like someone put a cigar and a pint of prison wine in a nutribullet and inked a typewriter ribbon with the resulting slurry.
Largo is a bike courier in the city of Lower Proszawa once the down-at-heels ghetto to High Proszawas stately mansions but now all that remains of Proszawa, practically speaking, ever since the great war reduced High Proszawa to a deadly snarl of plague pits, bomb craters, unexploded ordnance and ruins. The great war is over now, and Lower Proszawa has been reborn, with new fancy neighborhoods springing up alongside the ruins of buildings that were shelled or merely left to rot during the long fight.