The Third Alternative | 27 February 2008 | Peter Tennant

Wiseguy wannabe Capac Raimi comes to the City and is taken under the wing of all powerful crimelord The Cardinal, becoming a man of power and influence. But success in his chosen career opens the door to a world of mysteries. Why can Raimi remember so little of his life before the City? What are The Cardinal’s real motives? How do people disappear so completely that no one except him even remembers them? Who or what are the Ayuamarcans? Raimi’s search for the truth leads him to a group of Incan priests with an agenda of their own. This is a first novel, and it shows. The publisher’s bumpf compares O’Shaughnessy to Banks and Barker, but that’s just wishful thinking. He shares some of their fascination with the underbelly of life, but lacks the artistry to transform it into anything more. His writing is at best workmanlike and at times lapses into the sort of gaucherie editors are paid to keep well away from the rest of us, including what must be an early conten­der for the year’s worst sex scene, with such infelicities as ‘foliaged oasis’, ‘liquid pool of life and love’, and ‘my sabre, her scabbard’. The plot is about as unlikely as it gets, with a negligent attitude towards reality, though it does rally towards the end and, to be fair, this is billed as The City Book 1, so more ex­plication might be forthcoming. Instead of characterisation we get overwrought carica­ture. Raimi is thoroughly charmless and un­appealing, a jumped up Nazi in a designer suit. In more subtle hands his story might have been a powerful study of corruption and lost humanity, but all we have here is a second rate comic book adventure.

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