by Lev AC Rosen
Published on 4th June in paperback
In a future where the polar ice caps have melted, New York continues to thrive as a partially underwater city where its citizens make their home above the 21st floor in the existing skyscrapers or on the many yachts, boats and decomissioned cruise liners that now line the ocean streets. No-one knows New York City quite like Private Detective Simone Pierce, a New Yorker born and bred. Her latest case has her tailing Henry St. Michel, an import/export businessman who’s wife suspects he’s having an affair. What starts off as a routine job for Simone soon turns into something sinister when Mr St. Michel winds up dead. With the police chief keen to pin the murder on Simone, she must uncover the truth about the case and untangle the never-ending web she finds herself trapped in.
Whodunnit thriller DEPTH is a truly fascinating, gripping novel from Manhattan-based author Lev AC Rosen. The opening chapter of the book sets the scene of the underwater dystopia and establishes the character of protagonist Simone Pierce, a red-headed professional private eye, one of the best in the city. When her best friend, deputy mayor Caroline Khan, sends her a new client in the form of handsome Spanish research student Alejandro deCostas to search for dry buildings, who’s stairwells remain dry past the 21st storey, Simone is overjoyed for the opportunity to earn some easy money. But when her other case involving a suspected unfaithful husband turns out to be something else entirely, and results in her target turning up dead, Simone must focus her detective skills on getting herself out of trouble. However, there may be more to the two cases than she first thought…
DEPTH is quite a beautiful albeit gritty tale to read and throw yourself into. I found it incredibly easy to visualise the entire story in my mind, from the range of characters to the remaining skyscrapers breaking through the ocean, towering over the submerged city and plagued by the dense fog. Rosen’s descriptive use of language really breathes life into the world he has created, giving every aspect of his creation depth, meaning and purpose. His choice to create a female lead in the shape of Simone Pierce, a tough professional who cares more about her job than forging meaningful relationships with those around her, is a terrific one. Simone is likable as a character though she isn’t without flaws, most of which she’s all too aware of. She isn’t without friends though, she has them in the form of Caroline Khan, ‘psychic’ Danny and her old flame Peter Weiss. Though she often uses these friends of hers to benefit her and her job, she’s not totally uncaring and does have time for them, even though its hard to build emotional relationships when you’re in a profession that Simone is in. The story is as much about the character of Simone as it is a murder mystery plot, and the two of them combined together make for a thrilling adventure in a place where people aren’t afraid to kill to get what they want and if others don’t take their lives, the mass swell of water they tread gingerly upon would be more than happy to.
This is probably the finest fiction novel I’ve read for a while. It has everything you could ask for and delivers, even up to the the final page which is an accomplishment as I find many books struggle when they near their conclusion. The thriller angle of the book is fascinating to get involved with but equally exciting is the city of New York itself. The possibilities for corruption and murky dealings to be had in this flooded city are endless, though the whodunnit aspect of Simone’s current case will have you gripped as you attempt to solve the mystery alongside her.
Totally engrossing and easy to read and digest, Depth would be suitable for both casual and hardcore bookworms alike. Whilst there’s a splash of sex and death in the book, they’re only touched upon and not in great detail with the book much more focused on the characters, stellar dialogue and the noir mystery theme.
I would love to see further stories by Rosen returning to this underwater future, featuring the characters present in the book. Part of me thinks it would make a great visual too, be it in the form of a film or series, but one thing’s for certain: I’d love to read more about life in this all-too-possible landscape.