I really wanted to call this ‘When Prose Gets in the Way of Story.’
Something More than Night started out with tantalizingly imaginative descriptions. The main character detective, Bayliss, spun litanies of description in noir slang. I was intrigued, impressed even, by the metaphors and similes. I had to read carefully, mind on task as he strung together strange descriptions that had me chuckling or cocking my head. But by page 10, I was ready to read without needing to mentally re-shuffle and interpret every line.
This novel was so dense with the cheeky vernacular of a hard-boiled detective and the technical babble of a physics major that I barely saw the story through the mass of verbiage (yes, ‘verbiage’ is a word meaning an “
There was one particular page I have to give a shout-out to before I dive into the rest of this mess (the reason this book was given to me to read by a friend) that was pretty cool. The author split the page into two simultaneous streams of thought, leaving the reader to decide how to read the separate but same paragraphs–I’ll give it that. Now to the rest…
A down-in-his-luck detective (a fallen angel) meets a dame in distress, amidst the mystery of a murdered angel and a stolen holy trumpet. He has a sense of honour to help her out of the mess he helped engineer. The mess ends up being hotter than he bargained for. The dame gets in trouble, gets rescued. They they sort the mess out and part ways. The plot is simple, the world a half-formed backdrop to half-formed characters, cloaked in the cloying confusion of the writing.
The story sincerely suffers from an unending need to showcase style.
In fact, I’d go so far to say that the noir language mixed with complex physics were the impetus for writing the book, over and above any desire to write the characters or plot. The language was consistently so heavy with slang that it was almost indecipherable without careful word-by-word examination and extrapolation, and the plot literally was a copy-paste of old detective novels. It was even a plot device for the character to recognize–as her grand revelation–that her circumstances were eerily similar to noir tropes. But this did not come off as clever. It came off as an easy save to abruptly end the book.
As evidence to my reading woes, please read the below quote:
“The knoll overlooked a narrow sound formed by multidimensional breakwaters of quantum indeterminacy. Slow ripples of mathematical entropy lapped at the shoreline, eroding the non-Abelian symmetry groups along the waters edge into towering pillars of salt.”
And it continues….
“Not much to see at a casual glance, unless one happened to notice the miniscule refraction of time shadows where formless ontology met the subtlest hint of teleology. I was staring at a dormant topological defect in the Pleroma.”
Now imagine every page is like that. Every. Single. One.
If that excites you, you might want to give this book a shot. If, like me, you started glazing over by ‘multidimensional breakwater of whatsit” to get to the pillars of salt and then glazed again, I wouldn’t recommend it.
This collection of verbiage receives a 2/5.