The City and the City

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú 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, Borlú 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.

Well this book really was a job for the old brain. I have had this book on my TBR for years and since the author shares my initials, it felt like the perfect pick for my Birthday Bingo that formed my June TBR. If I’m being entirely honest, I forgot why I’d purchased this book as I had convinced myself that it was a crime procedural book which really isn’t my usual thing. I suspect that this may be the reason why this book never got a chance to shine until recently. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Firstly, it was not really a police procedural novel. Not really. The book was dealing with an investigation into a murder but it was the setting which really hooked my interest. I absolutely loved the setting of a city which is next to a city that can’t be seen. I really enjoy when a book suspends belief and really was very into this world.

In addition to the very strange ‘is it there?’ world building, the plot grew so many arms and legs which kept it feeling very fast paced. There were so many interlinking events taking place which was all very exciting! I enjoyed the addition of a conspiracy theory, this book really made me think.

The characters were fine. They felt like pretty standard characters in a crime novel. I don’t really think that I will remember them in months to come as they weren’t overly memorable. In fact, I’ve already forgotten everyone other than the main detective.

I felt like the twist hit me out of nowhere! I did not see it coming at all. I do wonder if I was so busy focusing on the interesting world that I didn’t notice the baddie doing bad things. I was distracted and this made it so surprising to me.

I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone wanting to read a thriller or crime novel which is a little bit different. The two cities just were a setting that I could read a whole series about. Unfortunately this is a standalone so I will just have to enjoy a future reread of this one day in the future. This has been adapted for TV and I think that it will be an excellent adaptation as this was one of those books that just feels like it should be adapted for screen.

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