What if there was another New York City, a copy of New York from the 1920s, that was trapped in a parallel dimension and known to its citizens, who have never heard of New York, as the The Empire State? There are boot-leggers, private detectives in overcoats, dames and femmes fatales, rain-drenched streets, and a seemingly never-ending night. There are also police blimps, super heroes, super villains and secrets. When Rad Bradley, a low-end detective, is hired to investigate a murder, he uncovers a series of secrets that will change the lives of everyone that lives in The Empire State.
In this debut novel, Adam Christopher fuses elements from the crime/detective novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, comic superheroes of the 1930s, contemporary science fiction, staples of the film noir genre of 1940s Hollywood, and just a dash of steampunk, into a genre bending/blending novel. The world created is small but complex with an interesting cast of characters, most of whom have doubles. This means the reader has to pay attention to keep track of who is who, because while the faces may be the same, the names and personalities are decidedly different. While Empire State is slow to build, once it reaches critical mass the story careens to completion with almost non-stop action in a climactic race to save not only the Empire State, but New York City as well. Some of the ingredients will seem familiar since the author is pulling from a lot of sources, and part of the fun of Empire State is the way Christopher blends things that are generally disparate into something unexpected and exciting.
Author Adam Christopher has provided some background information on the writing of Empire State on John Scalzi’s blog Whatever. His entry can be read here: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/12/29/the-big-idea-adam-christopher/