Sunday, July 3, 2011

The White City

Elizabeth Bear
The White City

Subterranean Press, 2010

The immortal vampire detective Don Sebastien de Ulloa, together with his companions – court - Lady Abigail Irene and Phoebe Smith, at the beginning of the XX century is coming to Moscow to heal wounds, but almost immediately gets caught up in the new plot. De Ulloa seeks a meeting with the artist Irina Stephanova, which was close to de Ulloa’s friend Jack Priest before Priest’s death, but instead the detective finds in Irina’s apartment a murdered woman's body. Not having to leave the room, the vampire is caught in the flat by local police. Learning of famous detective’s arrival in Moscow, the police receives help from de Ulloa in the investigation. In addition to fresh crimes, the vampire has yet to unravel the six years old case, abandoned because of corruption among the capital's police. The detective will have to face the thing much older than himself.

Bear breaks the time fabric of this novella (short novel) into small pieces, alternating stories about Jack Priest and his acquaintance with Irina Stepanova and immortal vampire’s seeking the murderer. In the chapter about Jack, we meet with a small circle of Russian artists, painters and sculptors. Gradually the picture opens the relationship between Jack and de Ulloa and Irina. Moscow, which the author devotes much attention, has been described here with all the care and respect to detail. In addition, plot takes place in an alternate universe, which differs from ours not only in the presence of vampires, but in the geopolitical situation.

Mystery is masterfully built here, in the finale we meet with even greater mystery.
Bewilderment after reading the book is caused just by awkward dialogues. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Bear was trying to combine the style of the transfer of Russian and English speech. The dialogues sound unnaturally, sometimes entering into confusion.

I am glad that Russia has become the scene of this exciting novella.

No comments:

Post a Comment