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Low Town: A novel Hardcover – August 16, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1ST edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385534469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534468
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“For a first-time author, Polansky has managed to craft an assured, roaring, and rollicking hybrid, a cross-genre free-for-all that relishes its tropes while spitting out their bones. And he does it all while spinning one hell of a gripping mystery. Much like its grim, perversely charismatic antihero, Low Town stakes a narrow turf—then completely owns every inch of it.” The A.V. Club (The Onion)

“Festooned with sorcerers and demons in a pre-industrial otherworld setting, Low Town…is a fantasy-crime hybrid with serious noir chops…Gritty, cryptically funny and relentlessly inventive.” – Winnipeg Free Press

Low Town is a strong, confident debut that should go down well with readers who enjoy their fantasy on the noir side. It’s a novel you can enjoy for its atmosphere as well as its story, full as it is of well-drawn scenes from the city’s underbelly.…Low Town delivers a fast, entertaining story in less pages than it takes some major epics to get out of the realm of basic exposition. I had a blast with Low Town, and I’m definitely keeping an eye out for whatever Daniel Polansky comes up with next.”--Tor.com

“If you like noir and hard-boiled mysteries, you might want to give Low Town a chance. You’ll definitely find it darkly rewarding.” New York Journal of Books

"Polansky hits all the right notes in his intelligent first novel, a blend of dystopian fantasy and hard-boiled crime....Sharp, noir-tinged dialogue and astute insights into class struggle mark Polansky as a writer with a future." -- Publishers Weekly

A strong debut novel with a hero who doesn’t waste time worrying about the moral implications of cutting someone’s throat." -- Kirkus

"Polansky's writing is confident and punchy from the offset. The action rips along at a brilliant pace allowing us to experience this gritty world through the eyes of a thrilling, dangerous, flawed, yet strangely endearing protagonist. This is modern, dark fantasy at its best and a debut to be envied." -- British Fantasy Society

"Quite brilliant...[Low Town] is as good a debut as I've read in along time. [It] has it all - and as the name suggests, it is sharp, steely and viciously bloody. Highly recommended." --John Berlyne, SF Revu

About the Author

DANIEL POLANSKY is from Baltimore, Maryland. Low Town is his first novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been reading a good deal of history of late and welcomed the opportunity to read a different type of book such as the gritty, noir literature I enjoy. I also was interested in this new novel, "Low Town" because its young author, 26-year old Daniel Polansky, had been a student of philosophy in college, as I had been long ago.

"Low Town" is a mixture of noir and fantasy. These two types of genre writing seem incongrous at first. Noir demands a strong sense of place. a hardness, and a sense of realism. These qualities don't seem to mix well with fantasy. But for the most part, this book works. The book is set in Low Town, which is the tawdry lowlife section in a city called Rigus in a country called the Thirteen Lands. It is hard to put a time on ths story, Many of the traits of Rigus are loosely medieval but some a strikingly modern. (A grand piano is a fixture in some of the scenes.) But the world of the book differs in externals from places people know. Polansky has developed an elaborate story for his Thirteen Lands, replete with terminology for coinage and officialdom, its social structure, its own drugs of choice, and its gods and goddesses and theology. It is not a modern world, as Polansky's story relies heavily on sorcerors (there is a prestigious school for sorcery in the Thirteen Lands) and strange and unbelievable powerful and vile monsters conjured from the Beyond. Sorcery and monsters are ordinarily not the stuff of noir.

The noir elements of the story also are recognizable and ultimately are predominant in this book. The setting in Low Town, with its overcrowdedness, alleys, poverty, crime, bars, drugs, flophouses, and unsavory characters would be at home in virtually any large city. It has a sense of familiarity.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kortick VINE VOICE on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I will admit that when I began reading this book, I did not like it much. In my mind I was expecting an Andrew Vachss type novel, hard hitting, gritty, and based on the dirty streets of the city. The mix of fantasy; sorcerers, spells, and drugs with names like "pixies breath" and "dreamvine" was something I found distracting and unwelcome. So I put it down for a few days, cleared my mind and started again without any preconceptions of what to expect.
Immediately the true power of this book hit me. All the things that before I saw as distractions were in fact, all to the benefit of the book, story and characters. The setting of a fantasy realm blends perfectly with the story, not detracts from it. In fact the tale could not be told in any other way, such is the way it was written. The main characters all are well developed, the story is tight, brutal, and moves along at a great pace. There is plenty of the 'noir' elements such as drugs, murder, grime and corruption in the story. This is played against the backdrop of a mythical city where magic and noble families are part of the daily life. It flows together seamlessly and becomes a book that is hard to put down.
The basic story concerns the murders of children in a poor part of the city, but where such a thing as murder is common, these murders are linked to something much, much more sinister. A disgraced and fallen ex law enforcer turned drug dealer finds himself drafted into solving the mystery. In doing so it leads him down a brutal path where not everything or anyone is quite what they seem. There is also an ending that delivers the goods in a way that will satisfy any mystery reader.
If you are a fan of either genre, I strongly encourage you to read this. If you want to try some new material by a equally new author, this is the book for you.
I look foward to more work by this author, hopefully including more of these characters and location.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. LaMee on March 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enjoyed the book, but disappointed to find that The Straight Razor Cure is exactly the same book as Low Town, which is listed on Amazon as "Low Town (Low Town, Book 1)". I recommend the book, but such foolishness as republishing recent releases under new titles is deceptive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MyBookishWays on August 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Our hero,the Warden,is a scarred man,inside and out,however,he's carved out a niche for himself in Low Town,dealing drugs and enjoying a certain shabby comfort under the watchful eye of his friend Adolphus and his doting wife. The Warden has a past in law enforcement,but one mistake cost him that career,so now he gets by the best he can. When he comes upon the body of a little girl,murdered and left for dead in the street,he finds himself sucked in to a diabolical evil,and compelled to find the person,or thing,responsible for her death. Unfortunately,her death won't be the only one... Aided by a street urchin named Wren,his friends on the street,and even some friends in high places,the Warden will have to track down a man that won't hesitate to use magic for murder.

I really,really enjoyed Low Town. There were none of the growing pains that are sometimes present in first novels,and it reads like a crime thriller. However,Low Town is not of our world. Daniel Polansky took our world,twisted it in on itself,steeped it in magic and set it loose. The effect is nothing short of dazzling. You'll meet underworld criminals,petty thieves,street kids,prostitutes with unearthly beauty,and creatures only found in nightmares. Low Town is fast paced,gritty,with plenty of action to satisfy any crime/thriller fan,and more than enough magic to make fantasy fans equally happy. All this,and a twist that this jaded reader didn't see coming,make Low Town a fantasy/noir treat that's not to be missed!
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