Depth by Lev Rosen

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Depth by Lev Rosen

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Science Fiction meets Private Investigation in this crime noir set a future New York that is partially underwater. Can PI Simone Pierce solve a murder case whilst avoiding getting too wet?
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783298631

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The private investigator genre is a great one. Not because they all feel pretty similar so that picking one up is like slipping on a pair of comfortable slippers, but because you can put a PI anywhere – even the future. Writing about a New York that is partially underwater could be done in many ways; action, cerebral, but why not use an investigator for hire? Mixing a solid crime story with an intriguing glance at the future is sure to be a winner, but you better put on your best trench coat as you are going to get wet.

Over the next few years the sea levels begin to rise, but at a pace that we can deal with. Despite this, most of New York is now underwater, except for any building that is over 20 floors tall. This being New York the natives are not going to leave easily and the likes of PI Simone Pierce still live amongst the high rises and floating bridges. Thankfully for Pierce the ongoing environmental disaster does not stop human nature, or cheating spouses, or even murder.

Depth is very much a typical 50s noir feeling PI book, but set in a near future where the water has risen. Exploring a science fiction context through the prism of another genre is a great way of driving a story forwards conventionally, but allows you to throw in futuristic content. Some of the best sci fi will have a character go about their everyday life and it will only be wonderful for the reader, not the character. To the likes of Pierce a world of river taxis and constant rain is not unusual, but to us it becomes a great backdrop. The important thing to remember when splicing genres is that you need to cater for both and Lev Rosen does this.

The best element of the book is the environment. New York is a great city to explore normally, but a city partially underwater is even more compelling. Rosen does not wander too far from the present day NY as the people who populate her book are still the confident and, dare I say, brash people we know now. The fact that a hardy million or so decide to stick around makes everyone in Depth seem a little odd, but you want to know more about them. To level out the oddness of staying in a drowning city Rosen also hints of an alternative America that has moved to the Right and prevents any outwards show of decadence. There is certainly an interesting world here.

So interesting, that you cannot not stop to think that elements may not work. If America had so long to prepare for the floods, why not do a better job? We already have the ability to create water proof underwater tunnels etc. but in Depth the myth of human life under the waves is one of the driving forces of the book. Rosen chooses to stick to the PI plotline of the book, which works well, but a little more explanation to how the world of Depth came about would come in handy.

Having a few inconsistencies and oddities in a dystopian future is not the end of the world (in the case of the reader) as the story and environment holds up. There is a strong crime noir that is the centre of events, no one can be trusted and anyone could be the killer. Pierce herself has the typical abuse problem and also problems making pals – all this leads to a sci fi PI. By concentrating on the central premise a few of the slightly dodgy fantastical elements are hidden. The subtle revealing of the world of Depth within a conventional crime story is what makes the book stand out; if only Rosen had developed some of the more bizarre world choices better.

For a great novel that poses science fiction elements within a more conventional story try Afterparty by Daryl Gregory, whilst Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea just goes sci fi crazy.

Buy Depth by Lev Rosen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Depth by Lev Rosen at

Buy Depth by Lev Rosen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Depth by Lev Rosen at


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