The idea of memory and its feeling versus its recollection has been examined in many movies and books. The ideal of addiction versus euphoria can be a powerful drug. In Machine City [Scott J. Holliday/Thomas & Mercer/300pgs], the aspect of a serial killer manipulates its way into the fold. The interesting about the book is what it doesn’t tell you simply from the point of view of the novel’s storyteller. Like “Hardcore Henry”, if this was ever made into a film, it would be very effective as long as that texture was built into it. The Machine is a neural interface using serums that are injected in order to relive memories either uploaded to peer to peer site or recorded by others for profit. Of course there is a black market as well. The time period of the novel is not decidedly set but the outlawing of such addictive technology in a non-apocalyptic suburban setting speaks to a great socio-structural thought. There are underpinings of “IT” with the Eddie Able character being a weird mix of Howdy Doody and the character in the recent satire “Frank” as well as some texture of “Se7en”. The balance of darkness and psychological mischief has the underpinings of David Fincher. Detective Barnes is written within the standard of “do-it-right” cop but the path he takes and the eventual reveal per se really keeps you in the mind of the man, whatever personality he may be. There are drips of gallows humor which permeate the proceedings. The underlining details like Barnes’ slain brother from his childhood integrate with an interesting almost “Stand By Me” nostalgia which gives the novel an old school feeling while being a slight neo-noir where you are what you want to be even if you don’t know it. “Machine City” is an interesting journey through the mind of a detective who may or may not be on the correct path or perception of that which he is pursuing.
By Tim Wassberg