REVIEW: Necrotown by Alexander Nader

Necrotown by Alexander Nader is a dark urban fantasy noir narrated by Sam Flint, a quasi-immortal private detective living in squalor on the wrong side of Mountain City—not that there’s any right side of Mountain City, a town overrun by drugs, violence, and corruption.

NecrotownMountain City is also teeming with monsters, including arms dealing werewolves known as Hairs, usurious Trolls, and several other magical races. The only part of the city where these races coexist is the Glow, the neon-drenched slum that Sam calls home.

Sam’s sleuthing partner in Necrotown is his voluptuous wife, the appropriately named Fox, a body-hopping kitsune with a living fox tattoo. The fox tattoo has a name, Sune, and exhibits plenty of personality as it scampers over her body, baring its teeth in anger toward any perceived threat.

As the novel opens, the loving couple are desperate for rent money. They accept a job from Lloyd Burgess, a deep-pocketed sleazebag who instructs them to retrieve his wayward daughter, Sarah, from the notorious Necrotown. Was she kidnapped by gang members? Or perhaps running away from an abusive father? Sarah has more than a few surprises of her own in store for the reader.

Necrotown is the worst section of this godawful city, overrun by death Mages and plenty of necromancy. As a quasi-immortal, Sam himself is not immune from death, and in fact dying is still quite painful. But if he’s lucky, death may be followed by an equally painful resurrection:

“‘This week is gonna suck for you.’ Fox trails a delicate hand across my throat. ‘You are going to die at least six times.’”

The loving and overly flirtatious relationship between Sam and Fox is the highlight of Necrotown, especially as Fox inhabits other beings’ bodies. This keeps their enemies guessing while also providing fuel for Sam’s lowbrow humor.

Alexander Nader’s pulp fiction-style writing superbly conveys the noir vibes of Necrotown, striking a nice balance between humor and horror without ever taking itself too seriously. That being said, the novel would benefit from another round of editing to polish the text and clean up a number of distracting typos. For example, discussion of the five “burrows” of New York City conjures a more leporine image than I believe the author intended.

Nevertheless, Necrotown is an intoxicating read, offering plenty of fun for fans of urban fantasy and noir fiction. The Mountain City Chronicles continues with Vampire Valley, the second book of the series.

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.