Regan Arts: 4/28/2015
eBook review copy, 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781941393079
Depth combines hardboiled mystery and dystopian science fiction in a future where the rising ocean levels have left New York twenty-one stories under water and cut off from the rest of the United States. But the city survives, and Simone Pierce is one of its best private investigators. Her latest case, running surveillance on a potentially unfaithful husband, was supposed to be easy. Then her target is murdered, and the search for his killer points Simone towards a secret from the past that can’t possibly be real—but that won’t stop the city’s most powerful men and women from trying to acquire it for themselves, with Simone caught in the middle.
Depth by Lev AC Rosen is a recommended detective novel set in a future NYC. Simone Pierce is a private investigator who, when the story opens, is "on the roof of a twenty-four-story building, so the ocean lay four stories down, churning just below the twenty-first floor. The fog was thick, but she could hear the waves lapping at the other buildings around her, and the worn wooden bridges that connected them to one another and to the permanently moored boats that made up New York City. New York, city of bridges and boats."
Simone is on a routine surveillance case of a husband suspected of cheating when she takes on a second job, escorting Alejandro DeCostas around the city. DeCostas is a visiting European archaeologist who wants to explore NYC looking for a rumored building that is water tight and dry below the sea level. While working both jobs, the surveillance case morphs into something else and takes on a life of its own. Simone is assisted in her inquiries by her friends, Caroline Khan, deputy major, Danny, a fugitive human computer, and Paul Weiss, a cop.
What is interesting and has great potential at the beginning is the setting - NYC under water and cut off from the rest of a vastly changed USA. Rosen writes:
"New York, though technically still part of the United States, had long begun to consider itself its own country, hundreds of miles from the Chicago coastline and the conservative, religious mainland. The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial had been airlifted to Salt Lake City, but no one tried moving New York. All the other drowned cities, like DC and Boston, were graveyards now—spires and flat tops of buildings tilting out unevenly from under the water like old headstones. Not New York. Though some older buildings had been worn away by the waves, others, retrofitted and laminated in that technological wonder Glassteel, stayed where they were as the ocean rose, closing off the bottom floors as they filled with water. There were newer buildings, too, designed to withstand the water, and decommissioned boats clever entrepreneurs had bought and moored around the city. There were a million New Yorkers left, and they were stubborn. They built the bridges themselves, and everyone bought personal algae generators and desalination filters for their apartments, stringing them out the windows into the sea. They reassembled their city. They stayed."
The potential for an intriguing story is all in place. The problem is Rosen has this great setting but neglects to make full use of it. The detective/mystery story is solid, but could easily be transferred to another setting, with some minor changes, and work just as well. This left me with a dilemma. I chose to review Depth based on the setting. The detective story is well written and satisfying but I kept longing for more information on the world. The search for a dry building underwater could just as easily be a search for a secret cache of some other treasure. This reduces the mystery to a formulaic plot that just happens to be set in a changed world and nothing in the plot elevated it above that for me.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Regan Arts for review purposes.