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4.2 out of 5 stars
Tomorrow, the Killing: Low Town 2
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The story is an awesome return to Warden's life. Set three years after The Straight Razor Cure, it's readable as a standalone story, but far richer if you've also read the former. We not only catch up with Warden and his friends, but also learn more about Warden's past and those passages form a continuing story with those of the prior book. They're not necessary to understand the plot of this one, but they do inform it.

In Tomorrow the Killing we get not one but two mysteries to solve, not just the identity of the people behind the murders of Roland and Rhaine, but also the motivation for them. In both cases they aren't killed by whom you'd suspect. In my opinion the puzzle of the whodunit was more intricate this time around; in The Straight Razor Cure I'd figured out who did it early on, even if I didn't know why until the end. In Tomorrow the Killing I was taken completely by surprise by the identity of the instigator of both murders--Polansky pulled a fast one on me. In hindsight, there were enough clues, I'd just completely missed them.

But far more than a murder mystery this is a further exploration of the character of the Warden. Polansky continues to show us Warden's history through flashbacks to relevant events in his life. We learn not just more about Warden, but about Adolphus and several smaller secondary characters as well. We also learn more of the history of the Rigan Empire, in particular about the war with the Dren, which is very reminiscent in setting to WWI. Polansky evokes the Great War's trench warfare and the trials and tribulations of the soldiers fighting it vividly. From the endless mud and rain, the futility of gaining - or losing as the case may be - a few foot of ground after each assault, and the devastating effect of shell shock on the troops, you can just feel the blunted despair of the soldiers. During the book we see Warden slip down a slippery slope, becoming more and more morose and bleak, and seeking his refuge in drugs even more, culminating in confrontation with Adeline, Adolphus' wife - who almost functions as a stand-in for the reader at that point, at least this reader, trying to talk some sense into this self-destructive man that Warden has become - and by the end there might be a suggestion that he'll turn his life around.

Even in the lowest point of his downward swing, Warden is humanised by his relationships with Adolphus, Adeline and Wren and his sense of obligation to General Montgomery and Rhaine. While he becomes distinctly unsympathetic at points and does some pretty atrocious things, which can't - and shouldn't - be excused because of his, mostly, good intentions, his care and sense of responsibility for his 'family' at the Earl show that at heart he isn't the blackguard he seems; he's flawed, certainly, and a thug and an addict, but he's not evil, such as The Old Man. He's broken, both by the losses he suffered from the plague as a child and his experiences during the war.

While we learn more about Warden's history with the Black House, we still haven't learned what happened to get him stripped of his position there. A third book is in the works though, so I'm hoping all will be revealed sooner rather than later. There is also a growing threat from The Old Man, the head of the Black House, its Special Operations unit, and Warden's erstwhile mentor. It seems he isn't quite done with Warden yet. So there are plenty of avenues left open for Polansky to explore and that's not even taking into account what new plot lines he might introduce. I can't wait to find out what they might be.

Tomorrow the Killing is a fantastic second novel for Polansky and it has only whetted my appetite for more: more of Low Town and more of Polansky's writing. If you haven't met the Warden yet, you're missing out. Tomorrow the Killing, like its predecessor The Straight Razor Cure, comes highly recommended and is a strong candidate for my top 10 Books of 2012.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A fantasy novel with elements of mystery/thriller/film noir also. This is second in a series of these, the first of which was Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure: A Low Town Novel (Low Town 1). Set in a nefarious district of a fantasy city, it once again features the Warden as main character. Who narrates the whole thing in first person present tense. Once a soldier. Then a secret policeman. Now an independent contractor, for wont of a better term.

Although this is the second in a series it does pretty much stand alone, and anyone who hasn't read the first book might still be able to get into this. Although you would probably still be better off starting with that volume.

This one runs for three hundred and forty one pages and is divided into forty eight chapters.

It contains some strong language and quite a bit of violence and some bloody moments, and thus is really one for mature readers only.

As with the first book, the use of a magic system does make this a story that could only be told in the fantasy genre, rather than historical or a thriller.

As readers of said first book will recall, Warden fought in his nation's great war against a people called the Dren. The after effects of said conflict still linger on the city. With the veteran's association up in arms about a plan to tax their pensions.

Warden is asked by a General from the conflict to track down his daughter. Who has strayed into Low Town on a quest for answers. About the death of her brother, a few years before. He was acquainted with Warden.

The hunt for the girl leads to the past coming back to haunt people, and Warden being caught in the middle of some deadly schemes. Once again, he has a fight on his hands to survive. But sometimes in Lowtown, that's all you can do...

The narration is very hard boiled private detective in style, but the character does fit the setting well. The narrative will on occasion devote whole chapters to flashbacks that describe incidents in the war. Chapters that pull no punches in depicting the horrors of conflict and what soldiers face when subjected to the whims of politicians. All this is very well done.

The prose isn't spectacular but it's pretty readable and clear which makes the pages turn nicely enough.

The world building is really very good. There's lots of little detail in a very convincing setting, and you're never overloaded with this, since you only see it through Warden's eyes.

It can feel at the start as if you've been dropped into the middle of things, since various details about the General's son are only gradually revealed. But there is some very good writing going on here. As it all becomes clear when things move to a head in the last forty pages, with some decent developments that you really won't see coming.

A very decent second volume. I look forward to more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2013
The story is not complicated nor a long drawn out affair but gripping nevertheless. The dialogue is brilliant, comparison's to Erikson and Glen Cook spring to mind. The interaction between characters is witty, clever and absorbing.

I criticised the first book due to the obviousness of the climax, this book is just a story based in a city over a few days yet unbelievably engrossing. I could continue with my superlatives but won't bore you, if you enjoy fantasy then I cannot see how you could not enjoy this book and would recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Having enjoyed Daniel's first book, I was eagerly looking forward to embarking on another adventure with anti-hero Warden whose actions take the reader on a hard boiled expedition into the seedy underworld in which he inhabits blending the best of crime with fantasy.

As with the original its well written, the characters not only fun to be around but fully fleshed which when blended with the authors no nonsense writing style alongside cracking pace makes this a hard title to put down. Add to this a huge variety of twists to keep you glued and all in it's a title that I had a hell of a time putting down. Just don't expect to get much rest the night you start this book.
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Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.

Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town. His name is Warden. He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

So, Book Two of the Low Town novels and I have to say having read this, these have now moved very close to the top of my favourite fantasy novels. Having thought about it a little there are two reasons for this - The world these characters inhabit is rich, wonderful, awful and amazing all at the same time and Warden himself is one of the best characters I've found in this type of fiction. He is beautifully imperfect, unpredictable and intriguing. Two books in and you feel you have only just scratched the surface...and yet still feel you know him well.

In this instalment he is chasing down the daughter of General Montgomery, who is off searching Low Town for her brothers murderer. Warden has history with both the General and his son Roland so against his better judgment he agrees to get involved - of course in this world nothing is straight forward and soon he finds himself in deep water once again..

The pure storytelling here is a joy to behold - giving depth to the characters we met in The Straight Razor Cure and bringing new ones into the mix, I'm definitely in love with the people, Wren in particular. There is dark humour and an ironic outlook on life alongside a rollicking adventure that will hold you in its thrall until it is done.

I really cannot recommend these books highly enough, especially for those who love the Fantasy genre and who love depth and intelligence in plotting and characterisation. Brilliant. Bring on Book 3.

Happy Reading Folks!
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on 1 November 2013
'The Straight Razor Cure' was Polansky's debut novel, and was a gritty and gripping introduction to the Low Town series. 'Tomorrow the Killing' is even more impressive than its predecessor: it is dark and compelling and delves more deeply into Warden's past, focusing particularly on his service during the Great War. This second instalment in the Low Town novels is set three years after the events of the first, and places a much greater emphasis on Warden's attitude to the war: his voice comes across a lot more strongly and the overriding tone is one of grim cynicism, which is perfect for the purposes of the story.

The characters - new and recurring - feel a lot more developed here, and I found myself liking (and hating) them a lot more than the characters in 'Razor'. I felt revulsion towards the drug-addled crime lord Adisu the Damned, a mixture of anger and sympathy for war `hero' Adolphus, derision and amusement at every appearance of the goons Roussel and Rabbit. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and Warden's dry one-liners are a frequent source of humour. Most importantly, I began to understand the protagonist a little better. 'Tomorrow the Killing' gives us a lot more to chew over in our attempts to understand Warden's motives and attitudes, and it's at this point where we start to experience an interesting mixture of sympathy and antipathy towards our anti-hero: antipathy, because the way he mishandles his relationships and deals with his problems is so different from how we imagine we would behave in his situation; sympathy, because we can totally understand why someone would react in such a way and how easy it would be to set foot on Warden's downward spiral.

One of the shining aspects of 'Tomorrow the Killing' is the way in which it deals with the impact of history upon the present day. Polansky draws on an issue that will always be relevant in any world, real or fictional, and presents several layers of conflict very cleverly. He has the Warden's regret-tinged struggle to come to terms with his own participation in the war; Adolphus' desperate attempts to regain glory for the veterans in spite of Warden's opposing attitude; both men fighting to instil their respective attitudes on young Wren; and of course the general impossibility of reconciling the glorified speeches and broadsheet stories with the horrific experiences actually lived through by the soldiers. This is all done so well that we're never sure whether either side is entirely right or wrong.

The plot is fast-paced and clever; Warden has stepped up his game in the time since the events of 'The Straight Razor Cure' - perhaps because the new events are so close to home - and he tirelessly orchestrates schemes within plots within ideas, running circles around his adversaries (and other people who just happen to get in the way). Warden is revealed to be ruthless and more cunning than suggested by the previous novel, and the way Polansky manipulates events to their inevitable fiery yet poignant conclusion is tense, exciting and masterfully done.
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on 9 December 2012
I confess that I had not read the first Low Town novel The Straight Razor Cure, so was going into this one without any preconceived ideas or expectations.

I was immediately grabbed by its gritty noir edginess. Warden is a compelling world-weary war veteran, now acting as a trouble-shooter and private eye (with a few other sidelines).
With its medieval world and criminal element, this reads like a Raymond Chandler novel with shades of George R.R. Martin thrown into the mix.

Tomorrow the Killing is packed with incident, action and mystery, focussing on corruption, cover-ups and family secrets. Polansky has crafted a vivid and arresting world with a colourful cast of three dimensional characters.

Drugs, crime, poverty, civil unrest, grime and disease are all put under the spotlight, and it was not long before I found myself totally engaged and immersed in this unforgiving world.

The characters engage in snappy dialogue and sharp exchanges and I particularly enjoyed the quick put-downs and retorts from Warden as he tries to search for the truth.

This is very descriptive and clearly illustrates the folly of war and of following false idols. The action shifts from events during the war of fifteen years ago and back to the present day, where Warden has been asked to find General Montgomery's daughter. During the course of his investigation, Warden uncovers much more.

That is the real fun of this novel: it builds and evolves, slowly revealing more layers and revelations. The suspense is maintained well and the action is swift, shocking and violent. People suffer and there are consequences.

If you enjoy crime, mystery and fantasy, you will love this. Thanks to its pacing, there is never a dull moment and I raced to its final satisfying pay-off conclusion. Polansky has ensured his name will be on people's reading lists for a long time to come.
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"Tomorrow, the Killing" is the second in Daniel Polansky's "Low Town" series of novels. Every bit as dark, moody and atmospheric as the first book in the series, "The Straight Razor Cure"; the book's central protagonist, Warden, remains every bit as laconic as in the earlier volume and, it seems, even more intent on self-destruction. Polansky's writing is as hard-edged and incisive as ever, and the fantasy world he paints even bleaker than the real one and yet there is something endearing and oddly attractive about the whole sorry state of affairs, too; the book is a gripping and compulsive read, with a cracking pace and a well balanced story line. If I have one gripe, it is that the author makes rather too much of the various layers of duplicity at play within his complex plot line, making it need just a little more brain power than is entirely comfortable for the frenetic pace of the narrative and making the final twist, when it comes, nothing like as effective as it should perhaps have been.

But don't let that put you off, because all in all this a great read for those who like dark, gritty (and occasionally gruesome) fantasy crime noir tales that are well spun and well above the ordinary.

The story is sufficiently self-contained for it not to matter if you haven't read the earlier volume. Highly recommended.
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on 26 July 2013
Some books you can't put down because they are too enthralling. This you put down because you cannot take the brutality, savagery and betrayal. I don't mean that in a negative sense, it is not particularly gruesome, rather Polansky has a sparse style that stimulates your imagination to make the worst. I love the laconic wit, the ironic humour, the self-deprecation and telling insights liberally sprinkled through the book. I find myself resting to savour what I have read, to marvel at the art of the writing that depicts the dirt, death and depravity in such elegant terms. It is a charcoal drawing to a colour photograph, sushi to a curry. Every character, every location is writ large if you have the mind to put it together, and therefore are much stronger. And the inevitability of downfall, the certain catastrophe of the best laid plans is an addictive spiral for the reader, much as it must be for the actors involved. Morality, good and bad are relative terms, ideas that have little meaning in the world of Low Town. Even survival seems an abstract concept; rather instinct and venality are the order of the day.
This is not a feel good book, an indomitable hero who makes it through in the end. It is savage story with brutal insights, leavened by the humour of the soon-to-be-dead and those who wish they were.
Curiously uplifting.
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on 17 September 2013
I really loved the first book and was looking forward to the follow up, but I have to say it was even better than expected. I believe that the author found a lot if confidence from the reaction of the first novel and I shines through in both the structure and narrative of this second novel.

Warden, ostensibly a bad guy who can't help but do the right thing, remains an absorbing protagonist, being both genuinely unlock able at times but never unsympathetic. This is especially true after more if his backstory in the Great War is revealed, showing us the full horrors of their experiences. This gives a different perspective of a lot of the characters of Low Town as the scars continue to run deep.

I don't like giving the story away, but did think that the premise was a little predictable, much like the first book, but it was the journey there that was the enjoyable part. The ending however was quite monumental and sets things up for following novels.

Overall a very enjoyable read, at times leaving you unable to put it down, not much more you can ask for. 5*
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