Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: "The Dewey Decimal System"

Before I even get into my review of Nathan Larson's The Dewey Decimal System (Akashic Press, 2011), let me just simply point out that if you are planning to read it because you think it has something to do with books, or libraries, it doesn't. The main character happens to live in the abandoned main branch of the New York Public Library, for which he has earned the nickname "Dewey Decimal." That's the only connection.

Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let's get to the book. Our setting is a New York of the near future, but after a series of terrorist attacks have led to the near-abandonment of the city and its takeover by a mix of criminals, government agents, and petty thugs. Dewey Decimal, sometime "fixer" for the D.A., gets orders to rub out a union boss. Naturally, things get complicated, and Dewey finds himself drawn into an increasingly-dangerous plot peopled with war criminals, gun-toting muscle, and one alluring woman who's not at all what she seems.

Quick, dirty, and dark, this one. Dewey's an interesting character, well drawn (and the way Larson has him narrate the book in "real time" adds a certain urgency to the book that keeps it moving very nicely). It reminded me of Jeff Vandermeer's works, and I suspect we'll be seeing more of Mr. Decimal in the future.