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The City Under the Skin: A Novel

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  131 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A cartographic thriller with so many twists and turns it requires its own map

A cartography-obsessed misfit clerk from an antique map store in a district that’s not quite trendy yet. A bold young woman chasing the answer to a question she can’t quite formulate. A petty criminal hoping the parking lot he’s just purchased is the ticket to a new life of respectability with his
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Sep 08, 2014 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: bespeckled girls who hit back
Shelves: 2014
What a snappy little thriller containing old-school mystery elements. The book takes place in an unnamed urban environment that has all the big city trappings including grumbling about gentrification. The story is centered around maps. If you never had an interest in cartography, this book just might change your mind.

Someone is abducting women and tattooing maps on their backs. Why are they doing it? Who is doing it? What do the maps lead to? All questions not just you the reader but some of th
Goddammit. I wanted so badly to like this book.

Stumbled across Geoff Nicholson in an issue of Black Clock, and was blown away by the precision of his prose and excellence of his description. Hungrily searched for him in used book stores. Finally found this new, with a glowing review by my one true literary love Steve Erickson on the back. Purchased! Yeah!

Unfortunately: Erickson's blurb was by far the best thing about this book.

Sometimes you gotta disagree with people you respect -- and this is o
Uwe Hook
The book follows Zak Webster, map store clerk, map aficionado, urban explorer and Marilyn Driscoll, self-sufficient and a touch kinky, as they unravel the mystery of why women have been randomly abducted to have what appears to be a crude map tattooed on their backs. Along the way, they have run-ins with strong-arm Billy Moore, who is raising a smart and smart-mouthed daughter with dermographia, Wrobleski, a killer with a passion for maps, and Ray McKinley, killer real estate developer and puppe ...more
The flap copy of this book calls it a "haunting literary thriller" that's a "deft portrait of a city in transition" and "a hymn to the joys of urban exploration." It has moments of being all those things, but I'd say it's mostly a thriller, which isn't a genre I really read. Maybe that means I'm not the ideal audience for this book: maybe Nicholson is playing with conventions of that genre here, and maybe the way he plays with them adds to the reading experience. I don't know: I wasn't totally w ...more
Dan Downing
A pure delight. Billed as a 'literary thriller', which is probably publishing promotion code for "well written", veteran author Nicholson takes a rare theme, fuses it with memorable scenes, realistic characters no less appealing for their wackiness and failings, and mixes it all with a humor so dark one can forget to chuckle for a few paragraphs after the funny lines. And then you might feel guilty about the amusement.
There is a mystery here, but not the kind with clues scattered about; one read
hmmm...this could really be a two.5 star book. The mystery started out interesting. I was curious to find out what the maps meant - I wish they were of something else. And I didn't guess who did the maps.... And I think at the end Billy's character was to be a bit redeemed but really he's a creep. The entire book had a 'noir' feel to it...I felt like there should be a Sam Spade character in it.

Women are being picked up off the street and amateurishly tattooed on their back. When the clerk in a map shop sees one of them being taken away he thinks that it doesn't concern him. But a woman shows up and he goes on the hunt for answers with her. The end came a little abruptly but it was exciting. Diverse characters and a quick moving plot makes the read go quickly.
A quick read and a romp, if your definition of a romp includes kidnapping, murder, forced tattooing, and other miscellaneous mayhem.

The characters, good and bad, are somehow endearing, the plot is clever, dialogue witty, and the milieu both common and interesting.

I'm sure you can find a plot summary elsewhere, I'm not up to it this morning.
I think this novel is absolutely brilliant. It has all the ingredients of a classic noir type mystery, but the addition of a cartography and tattoo subplot add something else entirely. TCUTS is my favorite kind of book, one where you immediately want to read everything else the author has written. I'm looking forward to the journey.
Linda Hali
My kindle lost it's ability to charge with 10% of the novel to go. And I am not really worried about the ending. Great concept and a very average story.Every character seems to be an expected 2-d stereotype. The visiauls are great- and I wonder of this writer is really looking to screenplay- because this could take off into a fascinating movie. As a novel- with a creepy but interesting premise, gratiuitious violence as an expression of sociopathic evil, a mnor unexlplored romance and the most in ...more
Paul Secor
By the time I finished reading this, I realized that I had experienced the reading version of a cartoon or perhaps a video game - though I don't play video games, so I can't be sure about that last one. There is more cleverness than any other human quality in this novel.
A story about women have back tattoos forcibly put on them by some crazy person.The action revolves around Zak ,Marilyn and Billy with the latter doing some nefarious things for his employer Wrobleski.
I almost gave up on this one early but 60 or so pages in, decided I would finish it. The City Under the Skin ended up being a fun way to spend a few hours.
Rita	 Marie
I don't think 'thrillers' are supposed to be quite so boring.
This was OK... sort of like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Mary Cawthon
Entertaining, fast read. Nothing especially ground breaking, but pleasurable
Strange but very interesting. Plot moves along nicely.
Arthur Brakob
Bad writing. Stupid story.
Interesting premise and a solid story if a bit predictable and abruptly ended.
Rase McCray
I was really excited about this, but ultimately I just found it frustrating. The writing wasn't very good, and a lot of the ideas, even when original, felt thin and cliche. The map idea, for example, was really original, but then the plot turned in ways that were predictable.
I'm so glad this man is still writing novels.
This book is horrible!
Courtney marked it as to-read
Mar 25, 2015
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Mar 23, 2015
Glen Feulner
Glen Feulner marked it as to-read
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Geoff Nicholson is a British novelist and non-fiction writer. He was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Essex.

The main themes and features of his books include leading characters with obsessions, characters with quirky views on life, interweaving storylines and hidden subcultures and societies. His books usually contain a lot of black humour. He has also written three works of non-ficti
More about Geoff Nicholson...
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