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Finch Paperback – November 3, 2009

79 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Ambergris Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

VanderMeer's third book set in the fungus-laden city of Ambergris is an engrossing recasting of the hard-boiled detective novel. Traditional tropes—femmes fatales, double-crossing agents, underworld crime lords—mix seamlessly with a world in which humans struggle to undermine the authority of sentient fungi a century after the events of 2006's Shriek: An Afterword. By the time titular detective Finch solves the double murder of a human and a fungus, he's been drawn into a conflict in which he's rarely sure who's manipulating him or why he's so important to their plans. VanderMeer's stark tone is brutally powerful at times, and his deft mix of genre-blurring style with a layered plot make this a joy to read. Though the book stands well on its own, fans of the earlier Ambergris novels will appreciate it even more. (Nov.)
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'Finch is - well, it's Farewell, My Lovely if Philip Marlowe worked for pod-people while snacking on Alice's Wonderland mushrooms. It's The Name of the Rose if Sean Connery's character was a conglomeration of self-aware spores instead of a mediaeval monk. It's The Spy Who Came in From the Cold if all the agents were also testing psychedelic drugs and hung out in a postapocalyptic Emerald City instead of Eastern Europe. More importantly, Finch is a really good book - exciting, dark, suspenseful, and wonderfully weird.' Tad Williams '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 alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Underland Press; Original edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980226015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980226010
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ulalume Viva Jones VINE VOICE on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My only exposure to Jeff Vandermeer prior to this, was reading Steampunk, which was this volume of works he edited with his wife. Ann. I really enjoyed that book. I thought the idea of Ambergris intriguing. I didn't know I was beginning at the end, which isn't the author's fault or mine. I dived into it, though, so I will read this first and then go back to the other books.

I was expecting a straight steampunk sort of novel with noir like detective elements, but this is much more than that. The fantasy elements, even the dark or grotesque ones, are beautiful. From page one, I was sucked in, a now fan of those books which are cut into "day" chapters. He has a very good use of vocabulary especially describing color and locations, it reminds me of Romantic Poets, yet this isn't a poem by far. The mixture is fantastic. It's gritty and violent, yet highly lovely in spirt, the only thing I could say even comes close to it that I have read, and I don't read a lot of fiction, is Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel. The two books are completely different in plot but share the same gorgeous intensity in their gothic imagery and dark joys. It's so rhythmic in nature, I can believe the music cited at the end inspired in and why he would want to make a soundtrack to go along with the book.

The story is a mix of so many things, horror, pulp detective stories, gothic literature, poetry, magic, who-done-its, I could list a bunch of movies and books I have read that would be the fingers and eyelashes of this work. It's good for the detective story read, good for the fantasy reader, hopefully good for the goths and steampunks too, though I am sure there might be debate over that. I am smitten by the lure of Ambergris, so I will be walking backwards and reading the rest.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Back to the timeless city of Ambergris, from VanderMeer's 'City Of Saints And Madmen' and 'Shriek: An Afterward'. Ambergris has changed a great deal over the last century. The once mysterious and quiet Gray Caps (Mushroom People) have risen from their Underground to take over the city, overpower the reigning corporate-based rulership, and now runs the city with the help of fungi based weapons, and towering purple mushrooms which disperse addictive drugs to the human population.

John Finch, not his real name, is a detective put on the case of two bodies lying dead in a tenement room. Both he and his partner Wyte, who is contaminated with fungal growth, are puzzled over the mysterious way the deaths occurred, and that one victim is human and the other a Gray Cap. They are watched over by the Partials, humans who have given themselves over to the Gray Caps and allowed fungal and other alterations to their bodies. Finch must eat the "memory bulbs" harvested from the dead, to discover the reason for their murder.

The Gray Caps, while ruling the city, are focused on building two towers, the function of which is unknown and mystifying. It seems the city falls deeper into decay the further along the towers rise. Finch finds himself deep in a complex web of fabrications and suspicion over the murder; a murder that ties in such anomalous characters as the Lady In Blue, Ethan Bliss, the dangerous Stark, Finch's neighbor Rathven, and his Gray Cap boss Heretic. Could there even be a tie to Ambergris historian Duncan Shriek, who disappeared a century ago?
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By atavism on November 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jeff Vandermeer's Finch is an interesting mixture of genres, encompassing noir, science fiction, and philosophy. The novel follows detective John Finch as he tries to solve a double murder- one human and one of the fungus-creature graycaps that rule the city of Ambergris are found dead in an otherwise empty apartment. With few resources, a partner who is quickly succumbing to a terrible disease, a lover who may or may not be his enemy, and a boss who is demanding answers immediately, Finch is forced to take actions that could prove deadly.

I didn't immediately like this book. I found the beginning somewhat muddled and had difficulty following what was going on. The author chose to place most of the description of his fantastical city of Ambergris and its history in the middle and end of the book. For me that meant it was a struggle to read the first quarter of the book or so, but after that things became increasingly clear, and I was able to focus more on the characters and their problems. I know that the author has written at least two other books in this world, but since they are supposed to be stand-alones, I thought I'd forge ahead without having read them. It's definitely possible that I would have had a more enjoyable reading experience had I done that.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on January 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Unlike many of the reviewers here, I am a newbie to the "steampunk" genre, whatever that may be . . . the oft-helpful Wikipedia provides that the subgenre features steampower technology and has Victorian England references. But I enjoy hard-boiled detective stories (James Ellroy rocks!), so upon the recommendation of a friend I grabbed a copy of "Finch," not really knowing what to expect.

Expectations would have served me little, as "Finch" is a completely original tale for me. Our anti-hero, Finch, plays detective in the fantastical city of Ambergris. Once torn apart by a human civil war, the city creaks along under the fungal Gestapo, the Gray Caps. These fungus-based creatures have murdered half the city and keep the survivors under a brutal thumb where even the most innocuous statement can be your last. The city rots under layers upon layers of fungus, and two terrifying fungal towers grow in the midst of the city but for an uncertain purpose.

All that is to the good, but "Finch" confuses as much as it entertains. Jeff Vandermeer is not a writer who holds your hand - he drops the reader pell-mell into the middle of a perplexing murder investigation as well as a deep, rich culture with its own history and legends. It's not until the middle third of the book that he bothers to explain half of what is going on. Perhaps I'm too conventional a reader, but I found the first batch of the book so wearying that I almost put it down three or four times. Eventually I got past the seemingly disjointed and the definitely unexplained to where the parts began to come together into a whole. Sometimes that happens and the result of all the threads coming together is absolute perfection (Robert Littell's "The Sisters," for example).
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