Book Review – Fever City by Tim Baker
Fever City is an interesting multi generational conspiracy / mystery thriller slowed down by an over complicated cast of players and some interesting language choices. The story pulled me in but it was hard, hard work.
Plot in a Nutshell
Fever City is really three interconnecting mysteries. The missing young son of a wealthy, if unlikable magnate in 1960, a contemporary journalist writing a book about the Kennedy assassination and the assassination itself.
The plotting of the three story lines is really very clever (and complex). Baker shifts between them effectively building tension and interest as characters reappear and plot lines merge and then diverge again. In some instances characters and themes are introduced only to be ignored and not revisited.
The cast of characters is enormous and assumes a level of pre-existing knowledge about early 1960s mob culture and the Kennedy assassination. It was confusing to keep track of who is entirely fictional versus fictionalised. That said both Nick Alston – the private eye tasked with finding the missing boy back in 1960 and Hastings, the main character through the Kennedy storyline are well drawn and intriguing.
I enjoyed a number of the themes included in the novel. The corrupting influencing of money and power was well represented. Whilst the long shadow of the Second World War in the Pacific on many of the characters was also powerful. The reimagining of the Kennedy assassination was a fascinating hypothesis. I also enjoyed the selection of conspiracy theorists listed in the contemporary chapters of the book.
What let this novel down for me was the long and flowery sentences that did little to move the story forward. It is a testament to the plotting that I picked it up again a number of time after putting it down in frustration! It is not a novel full of strong positive female characters and this along with the language may well be a homage of sorts to Ellroy but it did not work for me and distracted from what was a pretty good storyline.
Overall I think I am glad I finished it and it has left me wanting to know more about any number of the topics covered but can not help feel that is was perhaps too ambitious for a first novel.
Buy Fever City