- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Corvus (1 Aug. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1848877633
- ISBN-13: 978-1848877634
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.1 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,320,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Finch Hardcover – 1 Aug 2010
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I can't remember ever reading a book like Finch. Audacious... extravagant... macabre. I'm impressed Stephen R. Donaldson Fungal noir. Steampunk delirium. Paranoid spy thriller ... A clear signal, if one were ever needed, that VanderMeer remains one of modern fantasy's most original and fearless pioneers Richard K. Morgan Wow, what a cool novel. Heavy with shadows and dark as sin detective fantasy... Hell I loved it. In fact, I'm a little jealous Joe R. Lansdale Finch just blew me to hell and gone... I loved the meeting of the grime and the sublime and oh so beautifully crafted... Think Cormac McCarthy... with an amazing nod to Lovecraft and still that doesn't capture the spell this novel casts Ken Bruen Fans of the avant garde will appreciate VanderMeer's latest work. VanderMeer skillfully pairs horror motifs with dreamlike imagery Wall Street Journal [An] intriguing and highly original novel... VanderMeer can write beautifully Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jeff VanderMeer writes for The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly. He has won two World Fantasy Awards and has been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Bram Stoker Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his editor wife Anne. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Six years ago, the gray caps swallowed an Ambergris already decimated by decades of petty civil strife. With the city weakened and its people hopelessly divided, the mushroom monstrosities that had colonised the cave systems beneath the great state rose up to rule over the citizens. Now, those who survived through the unspeakable horrors of The Rising live in a state of perpetual paranoia: there is something for them to fear around every corner, some terrible consequence of the fungal invasion on every street, every building, every person.
Ambergris has become a vibrant city of red, green and gold; purplish hues and dirty spatters of all the lurid shades of an artist's palette have infiltrated its every aspect in spore form.Read more ›
In the midst of a decaying, half drowned city, whose citizens are pressed into work camps to construct two enigmatic towers for the gray caps, the detectives attempt to behave as if nothing is awry, investigating calls to find missing cats or resolve domestic disputes - and murders. Which is where we come upon Finch, up to his eyes in a case with sinister political overtones, trying to do his job, satisfy his boss, the gray cap called "Heretic", avoid the gangster Stark and the rebels, and keep his friends safe. Over a single week, everything goes to pieces and we learn that Finch is keeping dangerous secrets.
This book has an audacious concept which Vandermeer carries off with amazing aplomb. The cloying, seedy atmosphere of Ambergris is conveyed perfectly and the plot twists continue to the very end. Decaying Ambergris reminded me somewhat of ...Read more ›
Add to the mix a huge supporting cast who add more flavour to the plot alongside an almost photogenic writing style and it's a tale that will keep you up long after you really should be asleep. Watch out for Finch, don't open the cover or the Vandermeer spore will root and hold onto you forever.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Having begun with the surreal, partially absurdist mosaic of City of Saints and Madmen and continuing with the twisted autobiography of siblings that was Shriek: An Afterward, Vandermeer concludes with a story of gritty detective noir, set in an Ambergris occupied after the long-awaited Rising, hinted at and dreaded for two prior books. The Grey Caps, eldritch beings composed of fungus, have al last risen from the shadowed underlevels of the city and taken control.
Our main character is John Finch, a detective tasked by his Grey Cap overlords with solving a murder. The investigation will take him from one quarter of the occupied city state to another. He goes head to head with criminals, rebels, foreign spies and interdimensional entities while he hunts truth that, like fungus, is buried in darkness and hidden under piles of excrement.
Discovering the murdered man’s identity will connect Finch and the attentive, accompanying readers to the events of past books, and the wider struggle that will finally settle the fate of Ambergris and all her citizens.
Vandermeer has outdone himself with this terse, gritty adventure and proven his mastery of multiple genres and conventions with this venture into detective fiction. The feel, sentence structure and language could have been lifted from a Chandleresque novel, blended seamlessly with the surreal.
The only fault is that so much of the mystery and the final denouement is dependent on what has gone before in the prior books. Thus Vandermeer had placed his most straightforward and accessible story last.
Definitely read this one, but start with City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek: An Afterward before picking up Finch and seeing how it all turns out.
Err... yeah, excuse my shoddy attempt at verbosity there, will you? Believe me when I say that my former opener was worse. Far worse. Still, what I said there is true. I think. I guess. Eh, it is to me? Something like that. Anyway...
I had one issue with Finch and that was the prose. For the better part of the first half of the novel I felt as though it was a bit too clipped. Short sentences of the staccato flavor are to be expected when it comes to noir and hardboiled, but even so I felt that the fragmented sentences got out of hand every so often. By the middle of the novel I either got used to it or VanderMeer eased up on the fragmentation a bit, in either case I was not nearly as bothered as I was towards the beginning of the book, making this issue extremely minor and limited.There are moments when the clipped prose disappears though, traded in for something more reminiscent of that found in the previous novel. These passages are some of the best the book have to offer, going beyond the gritty reality of Ambergris and delving deep within the memories of the main character, John Finch, to create some of the more remarkable and poignant scenes in the novel.
Finch is so stylistically different from the previous Ambergris novel that it strikes me as inconsistent with one hand and then immediately comes around with the other to remind me that VanderMeer is a talented bastard and can damned well do as he pleases. Yes, the prose is most definitely inconsistent between novels, but it is a matter of what fits a novel. The much more fluid prose of Shriek would not do for Finch, which owns up to its clipped-yet-descriptive style as any noir novel should. Further, I must applaud VanderMeer in his ability to switch from one style to the next successfully.
Character development is a high point in the novel, at least as far as the main character goes. John Finch changes before our eyes as he moves through the story and by the end he becomes someone completely different than the person we met at the beginning of the novel. Never once did the character's development feel forced and thankfully none of it hinged on the implausible or stupid to get John Finch where he was going. Like most books the secondary characters are secondary characters and therefore largely ignored in terms of growth. Although Finch's partner, Wyte, does grow considerably... just in an entirely different way.
The story of Finch is just the sort of thing I go for. It is a detective story, no matter how many times Finch tells himself he is not a detective, and undoubtedly noir. The mystery, a double homicide involving a human and half a gray cap, is far larger than anyone expected though and complicated. Finch seems to know less than anyone else, no matter how much he finds out, and the effects the case and people involved with the case have on him is an example of just why I enjoy VanderMeer's writing. Alas, to go further into the story or plot would be entering the realm of spoilers and no one really wants that.
Those who have not read any of VanderMeer's work can read Finch as an introduction, but I am not sure I would recommend it. It seems to me that it would be like stumbling into a conversation held in a language one does not speak and trying to join in. There is a lot of back story to Ambergris and part of the joy that comes from reading Finch is bits of the previous books showing up. Yes, a reader can pick up Finch and enjoy it without reading any of the previous books, but why would one want to do so? It would be missing out on a lot of fantastic story.
Finch is a wonderful novel that successfully manages to blend detective noir with the weird fantastic to result in a novel that excels in character development and presents a solid story that serves as a more than satisfying conclusion to the wonder of a story that comprised Ambergris novels. I am sad to see it go and can only hope that eventually we are met with more stories from the city of Ambergris. I would recommend this book without a second thought and do so now. Go out and buy this book if you are a fan of VanderMeer. Go out and buy all of his books if you have never read anything by him. You might regret it, you might not, but then no story is for everyone. It is, however, just the sort I love.
The title character is a collaborator working with Grey Cap occupiers on their human police force, tasked with solving a grisly and perplexing murder. Through him, we learn the secret history of Ambergris and learn the Grey Caps' ultimate plan for the city. Vandermeer uses the classic trappings of the hardboiled detective genre and successfully transfuses them into the fantasy city of Amebergris, offering a satisfying (and successful) experiment in rare mating between two traditionally unrelated genres.
Fans of the previous books will find bit payoffs, while new readers can more or less enjoy Finch on its own. The only downside is an ending that's a bit too open for interpretation, though not altogether unexpected given Vandermeer's body of work.
There *are* some references backwards to some of VanderMeer's other Ambergris fiction, such as the novel Shriek and the amazing novella The Transformation of Martin Lake (from City of Saints and Madmen), but these references are meant as treasures for Ambergris-lovers; they are not essential to the plot.
If you are thinking of checking out Finch, please don't worry about whether or not you have read any of the author's other fiction set in the same world--though I suspect you may want to after reading Finch.
Finally, if you are not normally a person who would read fiction set in a fantasy world, I would encourage you to try Finch anyway--particularly if you enjoy the crime/mystery genre. Finch is up there with the best crime fiction. I would put it up there with the best of Lawrence Block's Scudder novels and the best of Charles Willeford.
But wait a minute...? Is this a fantasy? Or is this a crime novel? Or is this some kind of "literary" novel? It is all of those things and more. You can't put this book in any kind of box! That's a good thing.