Darren Shan, an already prolific children/young adult author makes his adult novel debut with Procession of the Dead (The City).
Young, witty and ambitious Capac Raimi arrives in the City determined to make a name for himself as a criminal. He arrives and joins his uncle Theo - but he does not expect to be pulled into the rackets and the destruction of people, especially his Uncle on the first time he is summoned to see the Big man of the City, known as the Cardinal. He sees his uncle and his men gunned down and then is transported to meet the cardinal. And courtesy of his odd name and the Cardinal's superstitious nature, Capac has a very real shot at becoming the old man's successor.
The setting is great - the City itself is a dark colossus of poverty, violence and sin, punctuated by the rather different lives of a wealthy elite. There's a host of cultish characters - the Cardinal himself, a sinister mastermind prone to violent tantrums, and a host of other nasties. Paucar Waimi, a wisecracking but utterly psychopathic killing machine. (My personal favorite.)
Things start to turn ugly when Capac realizes his memory of anything prior to The City is nearly non-existent, and even worse when the memories of those around him start to forget his friends that mysteriously 'disappear' under the Cardinal's orders. Capac's friendships and romance with Ama Situwa both threaten his position but equally help him start to uncover the twisted web the Cardinal has woven, including his final plans for Capac.
Procession of the Dead is a mixture of mystery, suspense and superstition. The chapter headings and many character's names relate to the ancient Incas. Incan spiritual power pervades much of the mystery. Although violent, it avoids graphic detail - instead uses suggestion and heart stopping action. I highly recommend this book - the ending is not entirely satisfying but the trip is worth the effort.