Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway đź“š

This is another fast read, an old-fashioned detective story in the vein of Sam Spade, but set in a dystopian future where political and economic power rest in a handful of nearly immortal bioengineered humans, known as Titans in part due to their more than human stature, a side effect of the bioengineering process which grants youth, long life, and physical strength, but doesn’t seem to do much for wisdom and intelligence; there is still betrayal, intrigue, and murder.

That’s where our protagonist comes in, an entirely human private detective with personal contacts in both the non-engineered general population and the oversized elites. When there is a crime involving Titans he is the one the police turn too, although not with much enthusiasm, to navigate the complicated relationships between the two societies. He is everything you would expect in a hard-boiled detective: sarcastic, loyal, and clever enough to solve the crime; but although he is cynical enough to recognize the inequitable structure of society, he doesn’t seem to really appreciate how the absolute power of the Titans corrupts everything they touch.

By the end of the case we meet a host of colorful supporting characters, plausible suspects, and red herrings, along with several action sequences in which things don’t always go the detective’s way. It is a page turner in the old-fashioned sense, with each section raising questions or providing hints that surely can be resolved by reading just a bit more. As with all detective stories things are tied up in the conclusion, but I felt that the resolution doesn’t really address the horror and immorality of the biologically stratified world.


Book cover for Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway, featureless white silhouette of a head wearing a black hat, paint drips running off the bottom, against a bright green background.