THE NIGHT MAYOR
Kim Newman's 1989 novel The Night Mayor is the latest to be reissued by Titan Books and, while it may not have grabbed attention the way his Anno Dracula series has, it's a book that has aged very well indeed. Add to this a further four short stories written around the same period, and it's quite an impressive package.
In the type of near future that was popular with writers at the time, and feels increasingly possible a quarter of a century later, virtual reality scenarios known as Dreams are the primary form of entertainment. When Truro Daine escapes imprisonment, he downloads himself into a Dream of his own creation, a city where it's always 2:30am and raining, populated by characters and actors from film noir. It's up to professional Dreamers Tom Tunney and Susan Bishopric to not only track Daines down, but to stop themselves merging into the adventures themselves.
Written with Newman’s usual panache, The Night Mayor is a cracking read from start to finish, evoking the hard-boiled detective movies of the 1940s and 50s, complete with gangsters, strange cultists and a car chase in the final act. It's a story that's lovingly crafted, with the author respectfully using the clichés of the genre to his advantage as well as adding a few surprises of his own. Anyone who knows the true identity of Jack Yeovil will appreciate the way he treats the character, who also spills over into one of the short stories. They add to Newman’s vision of the future – and in this age of blockbuster reboots, it may not be too far from the truth – each delivering a satisfying sting in the tail.
For greedy readers, there's one small disappointment; the book is devoid of any author notes, the like of which brought fascinating insight to the Anno Dracula books as well as providing glimpses of Newman's creative process. They're the literary equivalent of a director’s commentary which, given the themes of this book, would have made an excellent addition to the text. Still, The Night Mayor is hugely entertaining, and perhaps there's even more fun to be had in rereading and trying to guess who's who.
INFO: THE NIGHT MAYOR / AUTHOR: KIM NEWMAN / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW