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Borl must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma.
With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borl is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.
What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.
Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2010
"An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans." ( Booklist)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By James on 11-22-09
This is a very creative book. It doesn't really fit into any genre easily. It is a detective story, it is a political thriller, it is a bit of science fiction. It is actually none of those things and all of them at the same time. Imagine two peoples sharing the same physical space (a former eastern bloc city) yet living entirely apart - ignoring each other, pretending that the other does not exist. Then imagine a murder that seems to cross these carefully defended boundaries. That is the premise of The City & The City and it is extremely well-executed.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Carl on 09-11-12
Genre defying conspiracy fiction
Genre: Fiction,, mystery, semi-real world (On earth in a fictional geographically nonspecific European country)
Rated: PG13: A lot of cussing, no sex, some violence
Static or Dynamic: Dynamic; this is an active mystery in a society with very strange social rules that enhance and complicate the story.
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person: our chief male detective of the extreme crime squad
Abstract or Concrete: Abstract heavy. The book is placed in two countries that border each other. The citizens in each country must ignore the happenings of the other country, literally, even if they are feet away or they get black bagged by a power called Breach. The book centralizes on the theme of selective ignorance and how it has shaped the two countries that the concept revolves around. The concept is heavily present and thoroughly intriguing. I've never felt so intrigued about a story before. This is right up there with the Matrix, and V for Vendetta though it's got a much more classy feel than either of those.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear, it's a complexly straightforward murder mystery.
Narrator: John Lee is my favorite voice actor and he did a wonderful performance reading this book. His voice captures the rich character behind our protagonist and he successfully makes the anxious moments of the story feel that way.
Plot Outline: The book might be characterized as what a cold war would physically look like in a cultural sense. Each country has vastly different politics, both reminiscent of a communist and capitalist system though that's not heavily stressed. The residents of the two cities live right next to one another but must pretend that anyone they see on the other side doesn't exist. The illustration of this is wonderfully employed when a murder in one city, has results in the other. The quest becomes tenuous as our inspector has to navigate the jurisdictional hooplah involved in the alien governments. I loved this book and have listened to it twice now. I'm sure that I will listen to it again with the same amount of entertainment. Parts of it are simply too intriguing not to poor over and other parts of it are spooky in the way that well contrived conspiracy theories can be.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful