Daniel Polansky – Tomorrow, The Killing

I usually select books purely by feeling as I am often correct to my inclination towards the quality or likability of the book. Sometimes I don’t know yet but I am willing to give it a go. I had that with Daniel Polansky‘s debut novel The Straight Razor Cure which proved to be much better than expected which greenlighted his name for other books to his name. So when a sequel to this novel, in what is called the Low Town series, was published I did not hesitate to get it. However, the imposing title, Tomorrow, The Killing (2012), has the greatest impact. This in contrast to the story.

The story is again centered around the main protagonist of the first novel, a crimelord without ambitions except for keeping his side of town under his control. He is very flawed and it is almost surprising how he manages to keep himself on top if he didn’t show a cunning mind. As a central character he is refreshing compared to the main protagonists of other fantasy novels and this partially attributes to me liking the books.

Although this is technically a fantasy story the fantastical element is almost absent in this book. We only see a little on the sideline and it plays no role in the story. This is all about people.

There is no introduction to the plot and Polansk immediately puts the case on top. In the first pages he presents the case as start of something bigger. This only lasts a short time as he throws in some great twists that turn everything upside down. Unfortunately that is also where it ends. Barely a sixth into the story and all the gusto that reminded me of why I enjoyed the first novel was gone. The plot becomes very straightforward. The main characters may juggle between his friends and enemies but the actual course is steady and there are no real twists as much happened as I expected and what did not was of little importance. Polansky tried to mask this simple plot by adding a number of flashbacks of the main protagonist to fill in some background and provide a light into what happened before. Although they complement the story they felt to me as filler to give the novel more body and to hide the fact that there was not much of a plot.

I did not feel the main protagonist undergoing any development. He has few morals and he walks on a thin line between caring and not-caring regarding the actions he takes even though he suffers some. It provides some amusement in between an atmosphere that is gloomy and to developing in any positive direction. We see the bad side of society where justice does not really exist. The side-characters are clearly presented and far from stereotypes. The problem is that there are many of them and they get too limited time to be part of the story. Each has a couple of scenes and that’s it.

To me Tomorrow, The Killing was mostly a light and quick read. After a good start it became more straightforward with few surprises. I was entertained but it did not have the impact of the first novel which had a much more complex plot and twists that lasted until the end. I was not disappointed and I am willing to give the next novel in the series another go, although I do hope Polansky can provide a stronger plot that holds more relevance. There is much talent here, with skillful writing and a broad cast of amusing characters.

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