With a setting that feels incredibly exotic with a mix of a cautionary tale, New York becomes a post-apocalyptic water city in Depth by Lev AC Rosen. Rosen brings investigation to the waterlogged landscape for a twisting narrative.
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.
As a New Yorker, I can be really harsh on books that set the story here, but I was immediately impressed with Rosen’s take on this city. Rosen circumvented the ‘is it realistic enough’ question by setting it in a post apocalyptic world; with a new reality that was incredibly fascinating as much of the US is covered by water. Interestingly, power is shifted to the Midwest and religious conservatives become the reigning decision makers. This leaves New York in an odd limbo. The native New Yorkers are stubborn and take back their city, a concept which I can relate to. They don’t entirely secede from the US but disagree with the harsh laws such as women no longer being able to wear pants – a ridiculous rule in a city which is now rickety bridges over tumultuous waves. I can’t express how much I enjoyed this narrative. It felt really genuine and was what I imagine would actually happen given the scenario.
The characters are neither fascinating nor underwhelming. The protagonist is a cool P.I. who happens to be the daughter of a cop. This becomes a really interesting dynamic in the story as she interacts with this reincarnation of the NYPD. She’s well connected with a best friend who is Deputy Mayor and an old flame who is still on the police force. The cast of suspects and villains is expansive and all have unique personalities.
The gloomy feel is perfect for the core mystery. The private investigations core is reminiscent of noir while keeping to a nice pace. Mystery fans won’t be disappointed as the plot is neither too contrived nor simplistic. There’s a touch of edge and grit which really adds to the overall vibe. Ultimately, I enjoyed every minute of Depth. It was entertaining and had the perfect mix of post apocalyptic and noir. For a new look at New York or for fans of mystery, look no further.