A Man of Shadows (John Nyquist, #1)
The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionariesBelow the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.

A Man of Shadows (John Nyquist, #1) Details

TitleA Man of Shadows (John Nyquist, #1)
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 1st, 2017
PublisherAngry Robot
ISBN085766669X
ISBN-139780857666697
Number of pages384 pages
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, Fiction, Noir, Science Fiction Fantasy

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A Man of Shadows (John Nyquist, #1) Review

  • Gary
    July 6, 2017
    3.5 stars.A former professor of mine was fond of saying that great art is not merely engaged with, but surrendered to. That particular quality of experience – the willing submission of the viewer to the mastery of the art object itself – is hard to nail down in words; so then, is the absence of that quality. This, in a nutshell, is the ambition of the critic – to find the words to relate that experience, or lack thereof (or the gray in between) to other potential consumers of said object.Jeff No 3.5 stars.A former professor of mine was fond of saying that great art is not merely engaged with, but surrendered to. That particular quality of experience – the willing submission of the viewer to the mastery of the art object itself – is hard to nail down in words; so then, is the absence of that quality. This, in a nutshell, is the ambition of the critic – to find the words to relate that experience, or lack thereof (or the gray in between) to other potential consumers of said object.Jeff Noon’s A Man of Shadows is undeniably a work of art, and an engaging one. Expressionistic in style, though post-modern in flavor, it often feels more like a painting than a novel: confined to its subjective space but bleeding out from its boundaries and edges, willing you to look for more than it can display. Like all art objects it asks for your surrender; like many it falls just short of obtaining it.Though Noon is not usually associated with the movement known as the New Weird, A Man of Shadows, with its hybridized genres and skewed realities, fits the mold. The novel is set in some (future? Sideways?) version of our world, where the city of Dayzone exists in the perpetual light of an artificial neon sky, and the nearby city of Nocturna is shrouded in permanent darkness. Because the natural criteria for measuring time (the earth’s rotation and orbit around the sun) has essentially been banished from the two cities, everyone basically lives in their own personal timeline. In between the two cities is the shadowy (and gradually expanding) land known as Dusk, where strange people with terrifying abilities reside.The story follows private detective John Nyquist, hired to find a young runaway heiress named Eleanor Bale. Eleanor’s case appears to be connected to a serial killer known as Quicksilver, who can somehow commit his murders is plain view of spectators without being seen. Nyquist becomes obsessed with protecting (or possibly killing) Eleanor, and with unmasking the enigmatic, and probably Dusk-born, Quicksilver. In the canon of fictional detectives, Nyquist is more Hammer than Holmes (or, more persistent than clever), and as a mystery it is one of those novels that plays coy with its biggest secrets until the villain is unmasked and willingly spills the beans.Nearly every aspect of the book is immersed in Nyquist’s emotional reality. It is even suggested at one point that Dusk itself is “conjured from his own inner landscape.” I found it curious that, despite the highly subjective emotional expressionism shrouding Nyquist, I never really connected with him on a personal level. His motivations spring from a murky web of unconscious drives and pseudo-Freudian anxieties rather than anything tangibly associated with the quest he is set on. If the world of the novel really is just an exegesis of Nyquist’s own mind, this would be the most intellectually honest rabbit hole for the author to tumble down, and as a result the book is way more head than heart. So, while it may have gotten into my skull, it never got under my skin. A Man of Shadows is still an art piece worthy of admiration, if not exhalation.Thanks to Netgalley and Angry Robot for providing me with this ARC.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    July 3, 2017
    I really will never look at time passing in the same way again.Sometimes a book comes along that just ticks every box in the “things I love about reading” stakes – A Man of Shadows is such a novel, so incredibly immersive, such brilliantly incisive descriptive prose and a set of fascinating, beautifully imagined characters – that you just dive into it with abandon and leave the real world behind.A Man of Shadows has a decisively built world, a world of literal light dark and shade, where time is I really will never look at time passing in the same way again.Sometimes a book comes along that just ticks every box in the “things I love about reading” stakes – A Man of Shadows is such a novel, so incredibly immersive, such brilliantly incisive descriptive prose and a set of fascinating, beautifully imagined characters – that you just dive into it with abandon and leave the real world behind.A Man of Shadows has a decisively built world, a world of literal light dark and shade, where time is of the essence and the residents live with a kind of permanent jetlag as they jump between one timepiece and another. Into this strangely authentic place we find John Nvquist, Private Eye, damaged individual, hunting for a missing teenager and becoming entangled in a dark and dangerous web.He is quintessentially of the 1940’s, the wonderful noir feel the author brings to proceedings is quite simply incredible considering the scifi setting and the increasingly bizarre yet compelling narrative – the dialogue is of another age yet sparkles against the advanced backdrop, all the way through this strange beauty echoes in your mind, you do live it and breathe it.A Man of Shadows is a heady mix of science fiction, old school detective noir, horror and thriller – I was almost literally holding my breath as the final moments unfolded and I have no doubt there are some surreal dusk fuelled dreams awaiting me when I sleep tonight – I almost welcome them, so much did I enjoy this one that despite the dark nature of it I’d love to return. Oh look – this is John Nvquist 1 apparently – so I guess I should be careful what I wish for.Surreal, dazzling, unusual and extraordinary – A Man Of Shadows will haunt you for a long time after turning that last page.“You can walk away from events but not from your own darkness”Highly Recommended.
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  • Faith
    July 20, 2017
    I just recently learned the term "new weird" fiction, but I think it can be applied to this book. It's sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy and detective noir, so there's a lot going on here. John Henry Nyquist is a private detective looking for the missing 18 year old Eleanor Bale. Robert Mitchum could have played Nyquist in the movie. It turns out that Eleanor is not just a runaway, she plays an important role in the very strange world created by the author. The action takes place in a city comprised I just recently learned the term "new weird" fiction, but I think it can be applied to this book. It's sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy and detective noir, so there's a lot going on here. John Henry Nyquist is a private detective looking for the missing 18 year old Eleanor Bale. Robert Mitchum could have played Nyquist in the movie. It turns out that Eleanor is not just a runaway, she plays an important role in the very strange world created by the author. The action takes place in a city comprised of three parts. Dayzone is always light, lit by millions of light bulbs at all times. Nocturna is always dark and to go between these two parts of the city you must go through Dusk, which is a no man's land that is best avoided. In each of the parts of the city, time is a distinctly relative concept. Time zones are personalized. Nothing about any part of this city makes it an appealing place to live, and one problem I had with the book is that the author never explained why anyone would choose to live there when the rest of the country appeared to be "normal". Another problem I had with the book is that the difficulties faced by Nyquist and Eleanor could have been eliminated by a little truth in the beginning, but then you wouldn't have had a book. The truth begins to be told at about the 80% point. Up until then you get a serial killer, fog men, a drug that distorts time even more than this city does, and a lot of situations that made me wonder whether everyone was just mad and imagining the whole thing. This was a well written and imaginative book and I'd like to read more by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Adrian Dooley
    July 29, 2017
    A sci-fi thriller of sorts. Interesting if slightly confusing ideas and ultimately too much of a narrative on the world created rather than on telling the story left me cold. The story takes place in a city made up of three distinct parts - Dayzone, which is permanently bright thanks to the billions of neon lights covering the area, Nocturna, which is permanently dark and Dusk, which seperetaes the two areas, a type of no mans land which is avoided at all costs, neither light nor dark and covere A sci-fi thriller of sorts. Interesting if slightly confusing ideas and ultimately too much of a narrative on the world created rather than on telling the story left me cold. The story takes place in a city made up of three distinct parts - Dayzone, which is permanently bright thanks to the billions of neon lights covering the area, Nocturna, which is permanently dark and Dusk, which seperetaes the two areas, a type of no mans land which is avoided at all costs, neither light nor dark and covered in fog. The city has numerous time zones. Companies work to their own time zones. More and more time zones are becoming available and being sold by private corporations. Our main protagonist is a Private Detective called John Nyquist, a washed up heavy drinking man, confused and weary from the numerous time zones and their constant changing as he moves across the city. He is hired by the head of the biggest corporation that develope and sell these different time zones, to try and find his runaway daughter. That's the basic premise of the story and as it developes we are introduced to a serial killer that can kill in broad daylight without anyone seeing him, street drugs that can alter time and let you see into the future and some ghostly elements thrown in for good measure. So, I didn't really enjoy this book. The story felt like it took an age to tell. The descriptive narrative of the city continuously interrupted the flow of the story progressing. Yes it's a sci-fi novel with a surreal city but, just as the story is moving along we get pages of descriptive prose of the surroundings etc. It just left me cold. The characters were just smothered by this and as a result played second fiddle and were extremely two dimensional. Nyquist, our main character is literally nondescript and therefore held little or no interest. The second half of the book is certainly better than the first. The story did move along and there chapters of real interest and page turning elements as you were finally sucked into the story. But that didn't last ultimately as the descriptive prose took over again and all momentum of the story was lost. The ironic thing is, with so much time spent by the author describing the world and its workings, so much wasn't really explained and many elements just vaguely gone through, not really making sense to the reader. There are some really interesting ideas here but the vagueness with which they are executed left me cold on the whole world the book inhabits. The story seemed to play second fiddle to the surroundings. In the end it was a bit of a chore to finish this one. Not one for me I'm afraid. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC.
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  • Clair
    July 3, 2017
    A wonderful blend of sci-fi and mystery with a noir feel. Jeff Noon is a master of descriptive prose. Intricate writing and vivid depictions bring the complex world to life. Its dark, disturbing with plenty of bizareness thrown into the mix. Amazing world building in a city where time is a commodity and citizens move from one time to another adjusting their wristwatches to match one of the different timelines on offer. The city is split into 3 zones: Dayzone where darkness has been banished by b A wonderful blend of sci-fi and mystery with a noir feel. Jeff Noon is a master of descriptive prose. Intricate writing and vivid depictions bring the complex world to life. Its dark, disturbing with plenty of bizareness thrown into the mix. Amazing world building in a city where time is a commodity and citizens move from one time to another adjusting their wristwatches to match one of the different timelines on offer. The city is split into 3 zones: Dayzone where darkness has been banished by billions of light sources and it is always bright. Nocturna where darkness lives. And the area in between which people refer to as Dusk where it is rumoured ghosts, shadows and dark shapes live within the mist.Nyquist’s latest job is to track down a runaway girl Eleanor. But the case turns out much more complex as it appears Eleanor may hold the key to the city’s future. Whilst a vicious serial killer known as Quicksilver stalks the streets of Dayzone adding another dimension of horror to the tale. The writing is deeply layered as we follow Nyquist on his quest more and more complexity is revealed. There were plot twists I didn’t see coming which I love in a good mystery. Because it was a complex book this one took me a while to read but I still really enjoyed it.John Nyquist is an interesting many-layered protagonist, a noir detective, a tough looking man with raw edges and a sharp mind. Eleanor Bale is another complex character an 18 year old girl, combining beauty and fragility with amazing strength. There are a multitude of other interesting and varied characters all well fleshed out.I loved the book so much its going in my must read again pile. I can’t wait for a sequel. Its certainly changed the way I think of time.I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys, sci-fi, urban fantasy, mystery, detective noir, wierd fiction and likes complex and layered stories.I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery and Angry Robot in return for an honest review.
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  • Steven Shaviro
    July 27, 2017
    I have been a fan of Jeff Noon ever since his debut novel, VURT, from 1993. Noon's latest novel is a noir detective thriller, set in a city divided into two zones, Dayzone, where it is always bright daylight. and Nocturna, where it is always nighttime. In both cases we have artificial day and night: Dayzone is lit with so much artificial light, bulbs and neon lights and whatever, that you cannot see the sky at all -- it is huamn-made illumination however high up you go. Nocturna also seems to be I have been a fan of Jeff Noon ever since his debut novel, VURT, from 1993. Noon's latest novel is a noir detective thriller, set in a city divided into two zones, Dayzone, where it is always bright daylight. and Nocturna, where it is always nighttime. In both cases we have artificial day and night: Dayzone is lit with so much artificial light, bulbs and neon lights and whatever, that you cannot see the sky at all -- it is huamn-made illumination however high up you go. Nocturna also seems to be domed away from the sky; bulbs high up are like stars, making for artificial constellations. Between these two main regions is the ambiguous realm of Dusk, an area of ambiguity, of mist and shadows and diffuse artificial moonlight, where it is dangerous to go. People who enter Dusk are most often never seen again. Trains traverse the Dusk as they shuttle people between Dayzone and Nocturna, but the trains never stop in Dusk itself. A Man of Shadows is about day and night, or light and darkness; but it is also about time. There are multiple time streams in Dayzone and in Nocturna -- every activity and every place seems to have a different time. People are always manically switching the time on their watches and clocks, in order to keep up with whatever region they are in, or whatever activity they are following. In Dayzone, the incessant light supposedly boosts industrial productivity; everyone is always busy and nobody gets enough sleep -- nobody even knows when it is time to sleep. Rest and sleep are possible in Nocturna, but there are also plenty of nighttime activities -- bars and clubs and the like -- as well as mysterious zones where it is always midnight, so time barely seems to pass at all. The novel's protagonist, John Nyquist, is a down and out detective drawn straight from the realms of film noir. He is hired by the richest man in Dayzone to find his missing daughter, and from there he is drawn into ever-deeper regions of mystery and ambiguity. I won't go into the plot in detail, but suffice it to say that Nyquist discovers the seamy underside both of Dayzone's frantic capitalist activity, and of Nocturna's hidden underworld. There are mysterious illicit drugs that alter your sense of time, murders by an invisible killer that turns out to involve time theft, and art works that expand or contract light and shadow, time and stasis. Nyquist struggles to figure out what is going on, and to rescue the young woman Eleanor who seems to be in danger from her involvement in all these activities, at the same time that he struggles through his own neurotic difficulties. The threat of a "time crash" -- sort of like the financial crisis of 2008, but involving everyone's existential sense of duration (since after all, time is money) hangs over everything.What really makes the book, though, is its surreal, poetic evocations of the three realms of daylight, nighttime, and dusk. The novel's emotional center lies in these descriptions: the exultation and madness of the day, the alluring mystery and menacing coolness of the night, the physical heaviness of the mist of dusk.
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  • Kim
    July 15, 2017
    "Time, time, time/See what's become of me"While reading A Man of Shadows I found myself becoming wary of every timepiece in my house. Why does the microwave clock read 11:45 when the oven clock reads 10:32 and the wall clock reads 2:55?Which is th correct time? If I call the speaking clock number will anyone answer? Can anyone tell me "at the tone the time will be..." or am I on my own? Who decides what time it is for me? In short this book has caused me a great deal of anxiety. With a major bir "Time, time, time/See what's become of me"While reading A Man of Shadows I found myself becoming wary of every timepiece in my house. Why does the microwave clock read 11:45 when the oven clock reads 10:32 and the wall clock reads 2:55?Which is th correct time? If I call the speaking clock number will anyone answer? Can anyone tell me "at the tone the time will be..." or am I on my own? Who decides what time it is for me? In short this book has caused me a great deal of anxiety. With a major birthday looming soon I find myself fretting over the passing of time, current time, future time, how many minutes I have left in this lifetime etc. John Nyquist was also running away from time but simultaneously running towards a certain time. Once again Jeff Noon serves up a major mindfuck disguised as a story. Don't get me wrong, this book is fantastic and the story is gripping and well done. Maybe too much so. Part hardboiled derivative story, part noir, part speculative fiction, part literary acid trip etc. Even now looking at the window at what appears to be sunlight I wonder if this light is actually sunlight or if bulb monkeys are somewheee high above me replacing bulbs. When dusk comes will it bring along a foggy mist? Is the impending darkness truly nighttime or am I just on an alternative timeline? At the tone the time will be...
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  • Jennifer
    July 1, 2017
    This story was visually stunning. It would make a beautiful movie. I'd love to see Guillermo Del Toro take it on! It has this incredible science-fiction world building, combined with a hard-boiled detective story and a super-eerie sort of otherworldly horror. Engrossing.
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  • Sarah
    July 5, 2017
    Review originally written for my blogI received an ARC of this from Angry Robots as I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw the cover of this book and the description sounded fascinating. It says Science Fiction although this could also easily be classed as Urban Fantasy and would definitely appeal to fans of that sub-genre.The best part of this book is the setting, which is absolutely stunning. The city is split into two sections – Dayzone and Nocturna. In Dayzone, the sky is made up of la Review originally written for my blogI received an ARC of this from Angry Robots as I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw the cover of this book and the description sounded fascinating. It says Science Fiction although this could also easily be classed as Urban Fantasy and would definitely appeal to fans of that sub-genre.The best part of this book is the setting, which is absolutely stunning. The city is split into two sections – Dayzone and Nocturna. In Dayzone, the sky is made up of layers and layers of brightly coloured bulbs so that it is always day, while in Nocturna it’s almost permanently dark and the constellations are made up of the few remaining bulbs high up. To travel between the two halves, you need to take a train that travels via Dusk which is the shadowy region between the two.Many characters, like Nyquist, have homes in both Dayzone and Nocturna letting them choose when they wish it to be night. Another excellent addition to the world-building is the concept of time. The idea of having permanent day and night is already enough to play with the usual concepts of time, but in this city everybody is also on different timelines and you can choose which ones you want and change as you travel. Nyquist is always fiddling with his wristwatch to update it to the timeline of his current area such as updating the time in the pub so that he’s able to drink.The plot of the story starts out as your basic missing persons case, but develops into much more than that as Eleanor Bale, the missing woman, turns out to be much more important to the city than first thought. I won’t mention too much of the plot as being a mystery, I wouldn’t want to spoil it. The main character is Nyquist who I really enjoyed reading about, and the rest of the side characters are all fantastic and well-written with interesting backgrounds and motives. Eleanor in particular was really enjoyable to read about and I loved it as we slowly discovered more about her and her background.I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would have recommended it just for the amazing world-building alone, however having fantastic characters and an excellent plot means that this is definitely a novel worth reading and I struggled at times to put it down.
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  • Helen
    August 7, 2017
    I read once that taking away watches and clocks from people and not allowing them to know the time will slowly drive them mad. After reading this book I can believe it.It starts out as a hard-boiled detective story set in a world that feels like a futuristic version of the 1950's. The city is split into three different zones, Nocturna that is eternal night, Dusk, a place of fog and monsters where it is always twilight and no-one dare go, and Dayzone, a world of bright neon lights where it never I read once that taking away watches and clocks from people and not allowing them to know the time will slowly drive them mad. After reading this book I can believe it.It starts out as a hard-boiled detective story set in a world that feels like a futuristic version of the 1950's. The city is split into three different zones, Nocturna that is eternal night, Dusk, a place of fog and monsters where it is always twilight and no-one dare go, and Dayzone, a world of bright neon lights where it never goes dark and the citizens are constantly switching between the hundreds of different timelines.John Nyquist is hired to find the teenage daughter of one of the richest men in the city. But like any good detective story, nothing is what it seems. I loved the first half, the atmosphere created and the characters and the sense of place are almost perfectly done. Towards the middle it starts to feel surreal, it's like a bad dream where Nyquist is losing his sense of time and reality. I struggled with reading this, I've never enjoyed dream sequences and this was more confusing than most. It messed with my mind, and it made me feel a bit ill reading it! It settles down towards the end though and it got a bit easier on my brain. The writing is brilliant, and it's full of plot twists that I didn't predict. The atmosphere and the world building is just right, I could see Dayzone in my mind, and I loved the contrast between the frantic pace of life there and the calm and quiet in Nocturna.I do struggle sometimes with books that leave you to decide what's real and what's not, but if you don't mind that then I highly recommend this book as it's very well done, with an interesting story, good characters, and original ideas. I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.
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  • Edwin Howard
    July 31, 2017
    A MAN OF SHADOWS by Jeff Noon is an alternate world story about John Nyquist, an alcoholic private eye, who is struggling through life when a missing persons case falls in his lap that the deeper Nyquist investigates, the more the truth reveals itself. A fascinating world of two lands, a permanent daytime, called Dayzone, (created by more light bulbs that can be counted) and a permanent nighttime, called Nocturna, (completely with artificially created constellations) and the world in between, t A MAN OF SHADOWS by Jeff Noon is an alternate world story about John Nyquist, an alcoholic private eye, who is struggling through life when a missing persons case falls in his lap that the deeper Nyquist investigates, the more the truth reveals itself. A fascinating world of two lands, a permanent daytime, called Dayzone, (created by more light bulbs that can be counted) and a permanent nighttime, called Nocturna, (completely with artificially created constellations) and the world in between, the dangerous Dusk space. Time is also fabricated, with people living within different times each day, as if time is a commodity, not just a reality. Nyquist floats through everyone else's time and pays for it by constantly forcing his way through his own confusion and dodging insanity. Mind-bending by nature, A MAN OF SHADOWS is told through Nyquist's eyes, so the reader's grasp of this world is like how one interprets an expressionist or even an abstract painting; our perception fills in the blanks of information that don't exist in the painting to inform us of our understanding. A MAN OF SHADOWS takes Nyquist's thoughts and perceptions to introduce the unique world of the book, but the reader must complete their understanding on their own. Noon's ability to create a scene's mood and emotion is a delight to read, all the while making Nyquist and all of his alcohol induced haziness a likable hero that the reader roots for. Unlike anything I've read before, A MAN OF SHADOWS is a thought provoking tale layered with some wonderful and mysterious scifi imagery that really comes to power, perception, and family and what's most important. Thank you to Angry Robot, Jeff Noon, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Josh
    July 22, 2017
    A Man of Shadows is a surreal detective book which blends popular elements of the fantastical and private-eye genres to form a uniquely stylized story about a missing woman and the contrasting cityscapes of Dayzone and Nocturna of which she ventures. There's a lot of imagination infused in the dime-store detective facade that brings complexities conceived through clever concepts and well thought-out plot devices which make A Man of Shadows a joy to read.Full review: http://justaguythatlikes2read A Man of Shadows is a surreal detective book which blends popular elements of the fantastical and private-eye genres to form a uniquely stylized story about a missing woman and the contrasting cityscapes of Dayzone and Nocturna of which she ventures. There's a lot of imagination infused in the dime-store detective facade that brings complexities conceived through clever concepts and well thought-out plot devices which make A Man of Shadows a joy to read.Full review: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...
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  • Mya Alexice
    July 24, 2017
    thank you, NetGalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.[3.5 stars] this book got a lot better at the end but something about it just wasn't ... solid enough? The world took too long to feel fleshed out. And even then, "A Man of Shadows" was just missing something crucial that other great fantasy books have. A likable protagonist, maybe, or better worldbuilding?Either way, Noon's writing is beautiful and his world is immensely interesting and intriguing, just somehow not real enough thank you, NetGalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.[3.5 stars] this book got a lot better at the end but something about it just wasn't ... solid enough? The world took too long to feel fleshed out. And even then, "A Man of Shadows" was just missing something crucial that other great fantasy books have. A likable protagonist, maybe, or better worldbuilding?Either way, Noon's writing is beautiful and his world is immensely interesting and intriguing, just somehow not real enough for me.
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  • Mark Redman
    July 29, 2017
    A Man of Shadows was a complete chance discovery and one that for me paid off. A novel that is 'new weird' on similar lines to Mieville. The world is compelling, immersive and brimming with ideas. The character Nyquist is so well drawn with detective noir backdrop that suits the world. It can be surreal at times and the 'Time' concept that underpins the novel took a bit for me to understand. On the whole an amazing read something different. I believe we have a second book as well....I for one ca A Man of Shadows was a complete chance discovery and one that for me paid off. A novel that is 'new weird' on similar lines to Mieville. The world is compelling, immersive and brimming with ideas. The character Nyquist is so well drawn with detective noir backdrop that suits the world. It can be surreal at times and the 'Time' concept that underpins the novel took a bit for me to understand. On the whole an amazing read something different. I believe we have a second book as well....I for one can't wait.
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  • Julie
    June 25, 2017
    Big thanks to Net Galley and Angry Robot for allowing me a digital ARC.Sharply written, intense sci-fi mystery with a well-crafted world, and an interesting protagonist. Reminded me a bit of Leviathan Wakes in all the best ways. Jeff Noon has an unsettling, delicious way with words. Highly recommend for anyone who likes keen writing, layered sci-fi, and/or moving mysteries. I don't think I'll ever look at time the same way again.
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  • Cass Morrison
    August 6, 2017
    Read for the world building If you likes the movie dark city you will enjoy this story. It requires the same amount of attention. The plot is straight forward. A girl is missing and Nyquist is wrapped in her story as he finds her again and again. But the parts in between are intricate.
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  • Alex Sarll
    July 11, 2017
    I was most excited for Jeff Noon’s first full-length novel in 15 years*; back in what I now think of as those carefree days of the early noughties, he was parallel with Iain M Banks as the SF author whose stuff I absolutely devoured. Even those books which didn’t form part of his Vurt cycle revolved around similar questions – the decay of old meaning and the rise of new interfaces, the interpenetration of flesh and digital. Well, not anymore. A Man of Shadows is a noir pastiche – the fedora-clad I was most excited for Jeff Noon’s first full-length novel in 15 years*; back in what I now think of as those carefree days of the early noughties, he was parallel with Iain M Banks as the SF author whose stuff I absolutely devoured. Even those books which didn’t form part of his Vurt cycle revolved around similar questions – the decay of old meaning and the rise of new interfaces, the interpenetration of flesh and digital. Well, not anymore. A Man of Shadows is a noir pastiche – the fedora-clad private eye with a past is hired to find a tycoon’s missing daughter, only to stumble into something far bigger – set in a city where some areas are always day, and others always night. A setting, incidentally, which I’m sure at least one other SF novel did recently, and I thought it sounded fairly silly then. Noon (one wonders if the surname was part of his inspiration for these frozen moments?) at least has the wit to realise that it’s more about temperament than wealth who’ll go for which, that Dayzone and Nocturna will both have their well-off districts and their slums, that many will divide life between the two. But by making it clear fairly early on that there’s something rum happening with the no man’s land of Dusk that divides them, he risks the whole thing starting to feel too close to Mieville’s The City and the City and that book’s rumoured third space. And the whole idea of personal timelines – akin to the personal legal systems in Ken Macleod or Ada Palmer books – never fully cohered for me as anything more than a source of confusion. Sure, there's the whole 'time is money' angle, played out in everything from the most practical ramifications (if everyone's on different timelines, work need never cease) to the memories of a 'time crash' mirroring our own financial crises. But any sense that time proper is being affected by these shenanigans, instead of just timekeeping, is too marginal to have the necessary impact. Meaning that what should be the sort of pervasive strangeness which Noon's previous books conjured up so well doesn't quite catch as anything more than the breakdown of one man running himself ragged. Which may be because, in keeping with that whole noir vibe, this is a far more sparse, less experimental prose than one expects from Noon. This setting, especially in the dreamlike final section, is exactly the sort of place in which I can see the old Noon making a real fever dream. But he seems to have left most of his linguistic playfulness on the shelf this time out. Yes, I can understand that he perhaps doesn’t want to repeat himself, and also that this is a pastiche – but what of that drawled noir idiom with its own crazy imagery? ‘She had legs that didn’t know when to quit and a smile could make the Pope turn to gin’, stuff like that? I’d have loved to see what a Jeff Noon take on that read like. Instead, it’s mostly lifeless, clipped stuff, with two uses of the term ‘cheap plaster’ - a description my wife rates as second only to ’simple necklace’ for making her likely to abandon a book. *Though weirdly, the numbers now suggest that 2012’s Channel Sk1n was in fact 200-odd pages long, when I could have sworn it was more of a novella. Still, it was I think the first new book I ever read as an ebook, so maybe I was just less good at gauging that then.(Netgalley ARC)
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  • Scott Whitmore
    June 29, 2017
    One of the oldest metaphors around is light and darkness standing in for good and evil. God separated “light from darkness” in Genesis, Shakespeare’s love-besotted Romeo compared Juliet to the sun, and a Scottish prayer asks for protection from “things that go bump in the night.” In A Man of Shadows, author Jeff Noon’s electric prose and stylized imagery blur this simple idea into a fever dream of a tale about light, darkness, family, loss and time. This review is based on an Advance Reading Cop One of the oldest metaphors around is light and darkness standing in for good and evil. God separated “light from darkness” in Genesis, Shakespeare’s love-besotted Romeo compared Juliet to the sun, and a Scottish prayer asks for protection from “things that go bump in the night.” In A Man of Shadows, author Jeff Noon’s electric prose and stylized imagery blur this simple idea into a fever dream of a tale about light, darkness, family, loss and time. This review is based on an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) received through NetGalley. The book is scheduled for release on August 1, 2017.Time plays an important role in the story — after all, isn’t day turning to night followed by a return to day simply a visible reminder of time’s passage? Time is a commodity in Dayzone, where a walk to the corner tavern can involve adjusting your watch several times, and you’ll go thirsty if you and the barkeep don’t agree it’s past opening time.Dayzone is the city where private detective John Nyquist has his office. Called the City of Light, Dayzone is covered by millions of light fixtures of all types, creating perpetual daytime by blocking out the sky. Burned-out bulbs are replaced around the clock by ‘bulb monkeys,’ workers who climb and swing through the jungle of wires and fixtures to prevent any spot of darkness. In one of my favorite passages, Nyquist takes to the stairs of his office building, going floor by floor in hopes of catching a glimpse of the actual sky above the layer of fixtures.Nyquist is working the case of a teenage runaway, a girl whose family said she had become afraid of the dark. Like many of the folks who work in Dayzone, including Nyquist, the girl’s home is in Nocturna, a suburb shrouded in perpetual darkness. The bulbs in the artificial firmament over Nocturna are nearly all burned out; the few still lit are viewed by residents as faux stars. Eliminating the visible passage of time hasn’t made either city wholly good or wholly evil. For example: Quicksilver, a serial killer who has never been seen, strikes victims surrounded by crowds of potential witnesses under the bright lights of Dayzone. Between the cities of light and dark is in an area called Dusk. More so than Nocturna, Dusk serves as the boogeyman or creature under the bed in this tale. Nyquist has a personal connection to this mist-shrouded off-limits zone, and it is at the very edge of Dusk that he’ll begin to unravel his runaway case. The answers he finds are unsettling enough that Nyquist begins to wonder if he’s falling under the spell of 'chronostasis,' a sickness residents of these contrived cities contract when they become unmoored in time.I can’t say much more specifically about the plot without spoiling it for future readers, but hopefully I’ve given you a taste of this noir tale. To me, A Man of Shadows is more Urban Fantasy than Sci-Fi, but it was a very enjoyable read. The setting is unique and imaginative, the story layered and the prose vivid. I had no previous experience with the author’s work but now plan on taking a look at earlier books. I’m pleased to also note a series set in this sandbox is planned, with the next entry due in 2018. Sign me up for another round.
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  • Alysa H.
    July 12, 2017
    ** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley **
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