Book Reviews

Titanium Noir Book Review

November 6, 2023

Nick Harkaway hasn’t put a foot wrong since his debut novel The Gone-Away World was released in 2008. I always look forward to the next Harkaway novel and was pleasantly surprised when my pre-ordered copy of Titanium Noir dropped through my letterbox. The biggest surprise was that it did fit through the letterbox. His hardbacks are weighty, to say the least, with labyrinthine plotting and complex narrative structures.  

But for the lower page count, you’ve still got a tightly plotted gem of a story on your hands. Harkaway’s entry into the hard-boiled detective character, Cal Sounder pays homage to the gumshoes of old, while dealing with the issues routed firmly in the future. In this world, a select few have found a way to live forever, through a drug called T7. They are larger than life, they are powerful, they are Titans. 

Their elite culture is controlled by the imposing (in both reputation and stature) Stefan Tonfamecasca. When a conspicuously normal Titan is found dead, Sounder is called in to investigate and we’re immediately thrust into a breathless whodunit across the city of Orthys. The timing of Titanium Noir is unsettling. The rich attempting to gain immortality aren’t as far in the future as you’d like to believe.

Only recently tech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson revealed that he spends over $2 million a year attempting to stay young, going so far as transfusing his 17-year-old son’s blood into his own body. Harkaways Titans are the future equivalent of the Musk, Bezos and Johnson of today but with a key difference, they can live indefinitely. For all the advantages and entitlements of the rich and powerful (in any era), death has always been the great leveller. Sure, they have the resources to put it off for a while, but rich or poor, death comes for everyone. But now, that’s not the case. It’s a whole different level of power. 

This review originally appeared on The Book, The Film, The T-Shirt.

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