Author: Adam Christopher
Publisher: Angry Robot
Published: Out Now
Ted is worried, he’s been sleep walking and each episode seems to coincide with the murders carried out by the Hang Wire killer.
Meanwhile the circus is in town, but the Celtic dance troop seem to be taking their act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde World Funfair has started talking to his rides and the new acrobats frequent absences are causing tensions with the rest of the performers.
Elsewhere in the city there are other new arrivals, immortals searching for an ancient power, a primeval evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world.
Hang Wire is Adam Christopher’s fourth book and it is his best so far. That’s not saying the three that went before – Empire State, Seven Wonders and The Age Atomic – were not good, they were very good in fact, what I am saying is over the course of the previous books I have seen Adam’s style and mastery of his craft grow and expand. The result is Hang Wire, a pitch perfect story set in the world of nameless monsters and forgotten gods running rampant on the streets of San Francisco. Adam seems determined not to tie himself down with one genre, so far we’ve had a noire-gumshoe tale set in an alternative Manhattan, we’ve had a superhero team fighting the last great super-villain and we’ve returned to the alternative world of the Empire State with a tale or impending Armageddon and nuclear powered robots. Now he’s turned his unique and fresh style of writing towards mythology, but not your usual run of the mill mythos – there are no Thor’s or Zeus’ here – for this tale he’s mined the rich folklore of Hawaii, Korea and China. It’s a credit to his style that he can switch between genres so easily, whilst they all do sit firmly within the Urban Fantasy section, they each warrant their own section within.
This book also differs from his previous ones. They were all tightly focused tales centred on a few characters set within one or two locations. Hang Wire is on a more grander scale, it is not only set in the present day but it also builds a back-story through a series of flashbacks ranging from Oklahoma 1889, to the 1906 San Francisco quake, and on through the decades with interludes spread across the United States. It also has a larger cast, including Kanaloa Hawaiian god of life and death, Nezha the Chinese trickster god and Tangun the legendary founder god of Korea it also has their alter egos, and those alter egos have friends, loved ones. There is Jack Newhaven – the brilliantly named Magical Zanaar – ringmaster for The Magical Zanaar’s travelling Caravan of Arts and Sciences, his carnival manager Joel Duvall, the mystery man known only as Hirewire, Malcolm the leader of the Stonefire Celtic dance troop, Ted, Alison, Benny, Zane and everyone else that gets caught up in the events surrounding the killings carried out by the serial killer known as Hang Wire. All these elements – the characters, the locations, the back-story going back over a century – come together in a gripping tale that whips along at a frantic pace.
Adam has always put out tightly written stories, there is no fluff, no side bars that take the reader away from the action. I like this style, it drags you in and locks you down for the duration. To say a book is un put downable is a cliché that is liberally bandied about, but here is a book that is definitely that. Adam also uses his near-trademark chapter ending cliff-hanger so the reader can’t just leave it until tomorrow to carry on, you have to read just one more chapter to find out what happens. And then he goes and does it again at the end of that one. In a way his writing is episodic, his work could very easily be translated to TV – if that is intentional I do not know, but it is a style that makes for very easy reading.
I’d like to say that Adam has hit his peak with Hang Wire, the style, the dialogue, the characters and the story all flow and wind their way into your head like a worm until it takes you over, the result is you’ll find you’ve lost blocks of time and have a pile of undone jobs but a satisfied feeling that you’ve read a dammed good story.