The sixth book I’m reviewing is No Dogs in Philly, the first book of the ‘Special Sin’ series by Andy Futuro. It’s written as a mix of genres, with cyberpunk, dystopian, Lovecraftian horror, and crime noir all represented in the story. This is definitely one of the best indie books I’ve read, and I’d definitely recommend it to other readers.
The protagonist is a woman named Saru, a detective working in a future version of Philadelphia. In this world, most people have brain implants that allow them to have continuous internet access inside their brains (side-affects include getting your entire perception of reality taken over by hackers). The highest level of society is the Gaespora, alien-ish beings who are more or less benevolent but whose motives deliberately unclear. Somebody in Philadelphia is murdering girls with blue eyes, and the Gaespora put Saru on a case to protect one particular girl, Ria, a young woman who goes through her life protected by a dog-like entity who only she can see. As the story goes on, we learn of divine-ish forces controlling the all of the events, a concept fitting with the Lovecraftian horror concept of the story (the works of early 20th century horror writer H.P. Lovecraft featured god-like otherworldly beings who are either indifferent or antagonistic to our world).
It’s a pretty wild premise. The world of the story is dark and gritty as any noir story, with the addition of monstrous otherworldly threats lurking in the landscape. All of these different genres could clash with one another in really ugly ways, but in fact I was thoroughly impressed with how well the author blended them. In the world that he’s made, everything fits in. Every hallucination, every death-cult, every drinking binge from the protagonist, not one of these elements feels out of place.
The story does jump around some between points of view, and certain aspects of the story were deliberately mysterious for so long that I never really felt that I fully grasped everything that was going on. This may be a book that benefits from being read at least twice, as there were times when I felt really lost. This was not a matter of sloppy craftsmanship though. The pieces were all there. They were just difficult to understand in the first read.
Apart from the excellent crafting of the world, the story’s writing was superb. The sentences were clean and professional. The editing was for the most part flawless. I say “for the most part” because there were a handful of word choices which I found unusual. The author had a strange fondness for the word “tits” which never really made sense to me. It was very distracting. The rest of the writing was good enough that I’m willing to overlook the overuse of that word.
As I said before, I would definitely recommend this book. There is violence and profanity and horror themes, so readers who are sensitive to those things probably wouldn’t enjoy it, but I think fans of science fiction, horror, and crime fiction would enjoy it quite a lot. I certainly did. Andy Futuro published a sequel earlier this year, Cloud Country, which I will probably buy and review later.
Now, the plug. If you liked this book review, you can see my others here: