TITLE: The City In These Pages
A NOVELLA by John Grant
PUBLICATION DATE: July 2011
INTRODUCTION: David Langford
City Hall is on Lewis-and-Clark Street, so it was the 14th Precinct that got the call, and very soon the 14th Precinct, in the persons of Detective Sergeants Moto and Pincus, was on the spot, bending down and looking into the car at the condom-shrouded figure of Ratty Scarlatti but not touching anything because the m.o. and the scene-of-crime crew hadn't gotten here yet, being stuck in the traffic jam on Eighth thanks to the burst sewer there . . .
It might seem like just another case for the gallant boys of the 14th but, as the days progress and Moto (look, just don't make any jokes about his name, okay?) and Pincus delve deeper, the body count rises inexorably, with each murder reaching a new height of ludicrous surrealism—if not downright impossibility. It seems there's an avenger on the loose in the enigmatic city.
Yet is the unknown perpetrator truly seeking vengeance. Or are there operators moving at an even deeper level than reality?
John Grant has commented: “I've been a devotee of the works of Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) for decades—since puberty, perhaps longer—so that when the great man died in July 2005 it was almost like losing a family member. I wanted to write my own, very humble tribute to him by way of thanks for all the pleasure he'd given me, but it was some while before the right combination of ideas came along.”
The result, The City in These Pages, is a McBain-style police procedural, full of crackling wit and sharp one-liners, that's also a multi-layered cosmological fantasy in whose shifting perspectives nothing is ever quite as it appears. You've never read anything like it.