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Low Town #2

Tomorrow, the Killing

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Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

359 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2012

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About the author

Daniel Polansky

27 books1,127 followers
Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and A City Dreaming. He can be found in Los Angeles, mostly.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 189 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 76 books50.7k followers
December 14, 2022
So... this book is a fantasy book but with very little effort you could map the plot and characters onto a number of real world scenarios and write it as a noir detective thriller. The book could, for example, take place in New York in the 30's with the lead and many of the other characters being veterans of WW1 and the various gangsters and cartels being ... gangsters and cartels.

With that said the book is neither harmed nor overly helped by being a fantasy - the main benefit is simply presenting to fantasy readers a kind of story they will be unused to seeing if they don't stray outside the genre.

The beauty of this book, like its predecessor, Low Town/The Straight Razor Cure, is in the writing. Polansky writes excellent well-observed prose. On top of that you've got a good, convoluted, tightly plotted whodunnit with twists and a set of varied and interesting characters. We see it all through the eyes of the Warden and so it's him that we learn most about - and he's a complex fellow.

The thing with 'noir' is that it was such a big thing, done so often in so many movies, that it became impossible to do anything more in the genre without piling cliche on cliche. Perhaps that's the best argument for putting this all in a fantasy setting. Polansky can't avoid the cliches (nobody can) but in a new world with magic nibbling at the edges and swords in place of tommy-guns the whole thing feels fresher and we're more forgiving.

The dialogue is on point, capturing the noir feeling - though I admit that by the end I was wishing the Warden could have at least one conversation without the taut one-liners and quickfire wordplay.

These are minor quibbles. It's a great read and I commend it to your attention. Be aware of what you're getting though - a bleak, atmospheric read, a complicated tale with adult sensibilities and precious little by way of silver linings. One of the great joys of it are the incisive observations on human nature that the Warden gives us, honest and without sentiment and framed in a way that makes you pause to appreciate them. Under different covers, with a different spin, Polansky might well find himself being accused of literature here and being put forward for prizes.

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Profile Image for Lo9man88.
130 reviews46 followers
November 4, 2018
This book was a little better than the first one, i especially liked the characters development, we discover more about warden's bloody past ,the sacrifice he made in order to make it to the elite ranks of the black house... but this time he did screw up big time,there is no denying that he was cunningly devious, but ignorance of some key facts blindsided him in the end big time...
As always the author's style is very engaging and to the point. Warden's observations about human nature is much appreciated , don't get me wrong our hero antihero is an asshole of the highest Lowest degree,and this can be a very bleak and dark read with no silver linings whatsoever : So if you are a hopeful with a positive attitude and an innocent mind: You better steer away.
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews174 followers
November 26, 2017
Actual rating: 2.75.

Story-wise, it was better than the first book but nothing groundbreaking.

My biggest problem with the series is the MC. It is really hard to like him. I understand that he had a rough life and that experience shaped him into a person he is today but does he really has to be an asshole all the time? Even when he's interacting with his friends he's being a jerk. Even worse, he's aware of it and doesn't do shit about it. After a while, his constant sarcasm stops being amusing and gets annoying.

I said it many times before and I'll say it again, if I don't give a shit about the main character, it's hard for me to give a shit about the story. I couldn't give a flying fuck about Warden and I'm not interested in finding out how he ends up.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,905 followers
February 9, 2017
I have to admit I love this one a lot more than the first novel. It might be because I'm getting into Polansky's style or it could be because the Warden finally grew on me after the events finally played out in the first novel.

Either way, it doesn't really matter because this novel was perfectly awesome all on its own. It was riffing the horrors of World War I with a magical slant beautifully, even written as a slow reveal of the Warden's past as he goes about his dark days in Low Town in the present. I honestly loved getting to know him much, much better, learning that he was even more despicable and heroic than I had first gave him credit for. What a cool blend of regained conscience, doing the right thing, and bloody-minded and overwhelming revenge that takes on the whole damn world.

I mean, here we go from being nearly perfectly apathetic after being drummed out of the spy business, to feeling extremely guilty for a past wrong, to doing a half-assed job to make up for the guilt, to failing, and in failing, decide to make it right by burning the whole motherfucking world to the ground.

It actually turns out pretty much as epic as it sounds, too.

I'm SOOO tempted to start reading the third novel right away, not that there's a cliffhanger, because there isn't. I'm just that invested in the world, now. :)

Here's to the dirt and slime of the world! And let's hear it for our favorite drug-pushing, orphan-saving, black-hearted murderer, and pretty decent human being, the Warden. :) *clink*

Even if he's an asshole, he still has his good points. :)
Profile Image for Myke Cole.
Author 32 books1,735 followers
September 17, 2012
Polansky does it again. As with Mark Lawrence with King of Thorns, he shows progression as a storyteller with an even more twisted plot, more compelling and sympathetic character voice and more engaging setting. Polansky has officially joined the ranks of writers whose grocery lists I would buy, should they deign to publish them.
Profile Image for Pavle.
409 reviews142 followers
April 27, 2016
Superlativ od romana.

Posle prvog dela, koji je bio vrlo dobar-odličan, od Polanskog sam očekivao da se baci na svet i da ga malo podrobnije istraži. Nisam mogao više da pogrešim.

Ova knjiga je u potpunosti u službi karakterizacije, koju Polanski koristi da pruži snažni anti ratni komentar. Zaplet je tu, ponovo krimić, ali sasvim u drugom planu i fokus je prepušten neimenovanom protagonisti, njegovoj prošlosti i razmišljanjima, a on je toliko začudjujuće kompleksan da je prosto uživanje čitati o njemu. Harizmatičan, ali ni po čemu drugom poseban. Slomljen čovek koji ni po jednoj jedinoj osobini ne može da se definiše kao "dobar", a opet je jedino utočište nečega nalik na moral u svetu koji je uništen ratom. Možda je zato i ostao bez imena, zato što je donekle pandan običnom čoveku, čoveku koji je postao prisutan jedino u svom vrlo iskrivljenom i izvitoperenom obliku. Moguće i najslojevitiji junak fantastike, sa čistim i jasnim glasom što ukazuje na to koliko je zapravo Polanski umešan pisac. Njegove rečenice su jednostavne, nikada patetične, a uvek duboko promišljene. I neretko mračno smešne.

Kad smo kod toga, ova knjiga bez ikakvih problema može da se karakteriše kao "visoka" književnost i, kao takva, može da ponosno stoji rame uz rame sa nekim od najpoznatijih anti ratnih dela. Ne preterujem. Koliko god ja voleo i uživao u fantastici kao žanru, na nju može da se gleda kao na jednu veliku analogiju holivudskom blokbasteru. Posao joj je da bude zabavna i uglavnom jeste. Ali ponekad, dogodi se nešto ovako i fantastika uspe da iznedri jedan, na svakom polju, veličanstven roman. Pored ovog, postoji ih još par. Samo nažalost, prema fantastici i dalje vlada gomila predrasuda, što se za film ne može reći, gde su neke visokobudžetne produkcije priznate kao vrhunski doprinosi umetnosti. Valjda će se to promeniti, kad tad, i onda Polanski može da dobije sve pohvale (i nagrade) koje i zaslužuje.

Profile Image for Daniel.
749 reviews72 followers
July 29, 2016
Na nivou prethodne. Grimdark sa grimdark herojem koji ipak pokusava da uradi ispravno mada na kraju bas i ne uspe. Kome se svidela prethodna nek slobodno navali. Ja prelazim na trecu.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews223 followers
November 28, 2017
Book 1: 2*
Book 2: 2*

Book three we'll never know. I probably wouldn't have read book two had I not picked it up awhile ago on a Kindle one day sale for $1.99.

Such a disappointing series. I'm not a fan of noir fiction in general but this is an iconic Grimdark series so I had to at least give it a shot. I love dark stories. I love well written dark characters. The caveat is they have to offer me something in the way of connection to the characters. Give me a character I love to hate. Give me a sarcastic dubious character. Give me the tried and true villain with a heart of gold underneath.

The Warden and his cast of characters are none of that. He's just bitter and broken. The broken part is usually fine. Characters who are messed up in the head and know it can be very interesting. The Warden is just surly about it never really exploring his deeper issues.

Reading this I wanted to be doing anything else.
Profile Image for Scott.
385 reviews22 followers
June 2, 2016
I continue to be impressed with this series and author. His style very much speaks to me, and I will probably read most/all of what he writes.

This entry continues to build on the world we were introduced to in the first. We get quite a bit more back story into the Warden's time in the military, which added some nice insights into him and his relationships.

The present-day story was intriguing, and filled with plots and murder and backstabbing galore.

I think the one thing, more than anything else, that makes me enjoy these books is how real people's actions feel in this. There are no mustache-twirling villains, no evil dark lord to vanquish. There are just people trying to get by, trying to get more power, and trying to make wrongs right.

Can't wait to see how this ends
Profile Image for Mark.
483 reviews81 followers
May 26, 2017
Full of twists and subplots within plots. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
December 29, 2012
3 Stars

Book two in the Low Town series by Daniel Polansky was a bit of a let down for me. On paper and in theory, it had it all. We got more world building and feel for the amazing city of Low Town. We were brought down to dirty streets filled with Low Town's finest people. The city is a character in its own right. We were given a great deal more backstory to our truly interesting protagonist, the Warden. Sure he is not a good man, but he does have some heart and some morals. He is a character of great depth and he easily holds our interests to the page. Polansky gives us more on Warden's guardian best friend Adolphus, a character that deserves more of our attention. We get side characters, plot twists, and a few surprising turns. Unfortunately for me, the murder mystery plot always seemed to be missing something to make it interesting and memorable. I was always Turning the pages hoping that something would develop that would make me care or at least grab hold of my interest. Thankfully, Daniel Polansky is a good writer that pens stories that are enjoyable to read, even in this case when the plot was too weak for the characters and the setting. I finished this book wishing that there was something more, or that maybe I missed something along the way. After reading other reviews, I feel that this book could have been something special but misses the mark. I am Polansky fan and really look forward to where he will take the Warden to next in the Low Town series.
Profile Image for RG.
3,092 reviews
February 16, 2017
Another great crime novel. Polansky is probably one of my favourite at the moment. Would rate this better than the 1st.
Profile Image for Kostas.
303 reviews32 followers
March 29, 2018

The second book in the Low Town trilogy returns back to the titular infamous neighborhood, the filthiest and most corrupt place you can find across the city of Rigus, with Daniel Polansky - having set the foundations of his world - bringing a new, double case: a disappearance that will stir old, unwanted memories and a long buried murder that will put in motion forgotten promises; a story that, combining noir with fantasy through his very skilful writing, takes us even deeper into the dives of the underworld’s gangs, and to the protagonist’s dark past, as well as into a brutal, ruthless adventure.

Three years ago, from a time that seems to have almost faded from the memories of Low Town, his dark past awoke again, bringing to the forefront his ugly skills - skills that would’ve been better to have stayed buried forever - but now, with his deeds spread throughout the city of Rigus, when General Edwin Montgomery, one of his oldest acquaintances from the War, calls him and asks of him to find his missing daughter Rhaine, who left to search for the forgotten justice of her brother’s loss before she causes a turmoil in their society and dishonors their name once and for all, Warden will try to avoid as much as he can to get amid their family’s conflict.
But, with the soft side of his heart prevailing, wanting to help to resolve this conflict between them as soon as possible, Warden will start to search for her in the dens of Low Town, using his contacts - contacts that only those of the underworld know - about anything that has passed through their ears and about where she may be, and to try to persuade her to return back to her home.
However, when his old comrades from the War - now members of the Veterans’ Association - pay him a visit, desiring to join him in their common purpose against the unfair taxation that the Crown has imposed on them after all they have suffered serving it, and Rhaine stirs something that she shouldn’t, costing her the most precious thing she could ever have, this case will soon become much more personal, putting him on a dark path of revenge with the sole purpose of bringing his own justice. Yet, when his past begins to haunt him once again, breaking up piece by piece everything he built after years of wars and skirmishes, Warden will find himself in an uncontrollable situation that, as deeper schemes will get at play, will put him in an adventure that will threaten to bring him, his family and even their entire society to their destruction.

With the first book having showed us his writing skills, and how well they can mix with his imagination, Daniel Polansky comes in Tomorrow, the Killing with a different tactic to the story. A story that, even though initially seems to fall into more traditional tropes of the genre, manages to unite two times-periods between the protagonist’s past and present, putting us in an alternating cycle from chapter-to-chapter throughout the book, building on the world-building, and showing us in-depth the Warden’s dark deeds at the time of the Great War as a soldier, and later as an Agent of the Crown; a past both dark and ugly that harden his personality, making him to want to protect his meager friends and members of his family, and his few values and beliefs more than anyone else.

And indeed, managing once again to take us deep into his soul, Polansky succeeds at bringing the protagonist in a more intimate level through his astounding skill in the handling of the first person, the dialogues and the humor, and to make us love him even more.
Where, however, he fails most is not so much in the flashbacks that expands even more his vast world-building, nor in the writing that still remains spectacularly great, but in the main plot - and specifically to the mystery of the crime as, bringing Rhaine’s storyline in a seemingly quick conclusion, Polansky soon takes a different path, leaving behind its solving, and focusing instead the largest part of book on the underworld of Low Town and on Warden’s machinations in his attempt to bring his own justice - something that drags the main story more than it should, that makes it the weakest and perhaps the less interesting part.
As in The Straight Razor Cure , though, Polansky returns just before the final chapters with an extremely twisted, dark and very subversive finale, bringing an unpredictable battle that changes all the facts we knew behind the reason of the crime, and managing to close this story strongly enough and in a satisfying note.

In conclusion, Tomorrow, the Killing is a book that is trying very hard to reach its predecessor, with Daniel Polansky - bringing another dark and twisted story that doesn’t fail to show his astounding writing and imagination - taking us deep into the protagonist’s past, dividing the story into two times-periods that connect two mysterious crimes, but spending too much time on the underworld of Low Town in something that perhaps weakens it, and only managing right before the end to return the plot to a high level, and to close it strongly.

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Profile Image for Andy.
414 reviews67 followers
April 29, 2019
A slow burn of a start, much the same as the first outing with the main character, as you get to learn more about his past through his encounters/connections with various peoples in the present day. It helps build a picture of the troubled (flawed), complex & very guarded individual who I’ve grown to like in this series. There are flashbacks to the past as well which are sometimes difficult to recognise as they aren’t dated but at least they are contained within separate chapters retelling the Warden’s life in the War with the Dren.

I say a slow burn of a start, well in fact the entire yarn was & I did struggle at times to get going each time I picked the book up but there was enough interest to keep me going until the end..... Although in reality little to nothing happens to warrant it...... perhaps it’s all wrapped up in the final book? I must admit I actually liked the MC the Warden but..... in the end it's all there was & it jus wasn't enough to make it work with the lack of action & the continual 1 pace being a drain on my reading enjoyment.

If you like mystery & politicking then this is a series you might like to pick up. I would add fantasy but in reality it didn’t feel as such, I mostly felt I was in the 1700’s (swords, knifes & black grenades being the weapons mostly used) but there again I was also reading a book about Pirates at the time..... Arrrrrr. Magic was mentioned but it wasn’t practised once during the story so not sure of it’s relevance, although his apprentice Wren seems to be connected in some ways.

A mostly brooding piece which comes in at 3 stars, I’m neither dismissive nor raving about it, in fact I find little to review, make of that what you will..... i’ll likely not finish the trilogy as this didn’t kick-on as i’d hoped.
Profile Image for Michael Sliter.
Author 6 books144 followers
July 8, 2018
A solid four star for me. I actually enjoyed Tomorrow, the Killing better than the first book, Low Town. The "fantasy" aspect seemed to really take a back seat, but I didn't mind. The world was more fleshed out, and I enjoyed learning about the military conflicts and resulting political nightmare that occurred over the several years earlier. I also enjoyed that several additional characters were expanded upon and I actually felt some level of investment in people outside of the narrator/the Warden.

Some of my complaints persisted across the second book. The Warden is always witty and disrespectful in conversation, so much so that it becomes predicable and boring at times. It doesn't match the fairly deep internal conversation that he has and makes him pretty unlikable. There is a ton of happenstance and chance encounters. But, thought this detracted from the overall experience, it certainly didn't ruin the book by any means.

Overall, I did enjoy Tomorrow, the Killing and would recommend picking it up.

(As an aside, I was surprised that I couldn't get this on iBooks, as I use an old iPad as my reading device these days. And, since the iPad is too old to use the new Kindle app, I ended up having to read it on my phone!)
Profile Image for Chompa.
664 reviews53 followers
November 9, 2015
3.5 stars rounded up.

Polansky returns to Low Town and The Warden. This time around I found the story and the actions taken much darker than the first book. The lower score is not a reflection of that (frankly I loved getting more insight into The Warden and Adophus' time in the Drenn War) so much as parts of the story just seemed to drag a bit.

The Warden is a complicated man. He's done some evil stuff and doesn't have much value for anyone's life with the exception of a few people. And even those people are not above being treated like shit by him.

I still am loving this series and may just dive into book three right away. I really want to find out what caused him to leave the Black House.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
463 reviews14 followers
December 8, 2018
The second book of the Low Town series continues in a similar matter to the first one: Warden, aka John "die-hard" McClan, runs an intricate con while trying to catch up with his military past and sweating under a burning sun.

Again, it is quite a dark, bleak story where the world is broken, blood flows abundantly in the street and silver linings are scarce. It is full of senseless actions and wars and yet, the author has a beautiful prose, that is both dark and witty, but also socio-critical to make this a worthwhile read.

“I felt a little bad about it, but then we’re all making our bread off someone’s misery.”

3.5 stars, rounding up.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,391 reviews819 followers
April 17, 2016
The Warden is a wonderfully complex character. This was even darker than the first I think. Fantastic read.
Profile Image for Gökçe.
Author 7 books43 followers
March 18, 2015
Polansky gene iyi iş çıkarmış. Savaşın askerlerin üzerindeki kalıcı etkisi bu romanın baş kahramanı. Gazilerin hayata tutunma çabasını anlatınca fantastik roman çok güçlü gerçeklik damarı kazanıyor. Low Town, aşağı mahalle, iyilerin olmadığı, kötülerinse yok olmaya gittikleri bir cehennem gibi. Polansky'nin anlatımı ile düş dünyasında gezerken insan hali hakkında düşünüyoruz. Başarılı
Profile Image for Pamela .
534 reviews28 followers
April 20, 2021
If the first book sparked your interest in Warden, this second installment will give you a good drink, but leave you thirsty for more of Warden's story.
It's an engrossing tale giving the reader a clear picture of what Warden was through past remembrances, and where he is now when that past manipulates the present, within a noir setting of sword wielding gangsters, disgruntled veterans, and political deceit.
Warden's not a good guy, but certainly a fascinating one, reminding me of time spent with Mark Lawrence's Jorg Ancrath, where you shouldn't like this guy, but just can't help yourself, when you consider the world they were thrust in to.
Profile Image for Mieneke.
782 reviews85 followers
October 19, 2012
On Monday, I posted my review for Daniel Polansky's The Straight Razor Cure , book one of the Low Town series. At the time I said I was already hock deep into book two, Tomorrow the Killing and today I get to bring you a review for it. The story is an awesome return to Warden's life. Set three years after The Straight Razor Cure, it's readable as a standalone story, but far richer if you've also read the former. We not only catch up with Warden and his friends, but also learn more about Warden's past and those passages form a continuing story with those of the prior book. They're not necessary to understand the plot of this one, but they do inform it.

In Tomorrow the Killing we get not one but two mysteries to solve, not just the identity of the people behind the murders of Roland and Rhaine, but also the motivation for them. In both cases they aren't killed by whom you'd suspect. In my opinion the puzzle of the whodunit was more intricate this time around; in The Straight Razor Cure I'd figured out who did it early on, even if I didn't know why until the end. In Tomorrow the Killing I was taken completely by surprise by the identity of the instigator of both murders—Polansky pulled a fast one on me. In hindsight, there were enough clues, I'd just completely missed them.

But far more than a murder mystery this is a further exploration of the character of the Warden. Polansky continues to show us Warden's history through flashbacks to relevant events in his life. We learn not just more about Warden, but about Adolphus and several smaller secondary characters as well. We also learn more of the history of the Rigan Empire, in particular about the war with the Dren, which is very reminiscent in setting to WWI. Polansky evokes the Great War's trench warfare and the trials and tribulations of the soldiers fighting it vividly. From the endless mud and rain, the futility of gaining – or losing as the case may be – a few foot of ground after each assault, and the devastating effect of shell shock on the troops, you can just feel the blunted despair of the soldiers. During the book we see Warden slip down a slippery slope, becoming more and more morose and bleak, and seeking his refuge in drugs even more, culminating in confrontation with Adeline, Adolphus' wife – who almost functions as a stand-in for the reader at that point, at least this reader, trying to talk some sense into this self-destructive man that Warden has become – and by the end there might be a suggestion that he'll turn his life around.

Even in the lowest point of his downward swing, Warden is humanised by his relationships with Adolphus, Adeline and Wren and his sense of obligation to General Montgomery and Rhaine. While he becomes distinctly unsympathetic at points and does some pretty atrocious things, which can't – and shouldn't – be excused because of his, mostly, good intentions, his care and sense of responsibility for his 'family' at the Earl show that at heart he isn't the blackguard he seems; he's flawed, certainly, and a thug and an addict, but he's not evil, such as The Old Man. He's broken, both by the losses he suffered from the plague as a child and his experiences during the war.

While we learn more about Warden's history with the Black House, we still haven't learned what happened to get him stripped of his position there. A third book is in the works though, so I'm hoping all will be revealed sooner rather than later. There is also a growing threat from The Old Man, the head of the Black House, its Special Operations unit, and Warden's erstwhile mentor. It seems he isn't quite done with Warden yet. So there are plenty of avenues left open for Polansky to explore and that's not even taking into account what new plot lines he might introduce. I can't wait to find out what they might be.

Tomorrow the Killing is a fantastic second novel for Polansky and it has only whetted my appetite for more: more of Low Town and more of Polansky's writing. If you haven't met the Warden yet, you're missing out. Tomorrow the Killing, like its predecessor The Straight Razor Cure, comes highly recommended and is a strong candidate for my top 10 Books of 2012.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
Profile Image for Caleb Hill.
69 reviews
August 6, 2013
“’Let me tell you something about the dead, as someone who’s seen a few of them. They don’t care what we do. They don’t yearn for vengeance, and they don’t hope for redemption. They rot…Stick around Low Town and you’ll find out I’m right.’”

There are very few authors who can effectively change the sub-genre that they’re working in. Daniel Polanksy has the ability and talent to do just that with Fantasy Noir, a relatively new field.

The Warden’s back. Three years have passed since the events in Low Town. His voice has become ever more prominent, his fist on the pixie even stronger, especially as time goes by. He’s just as cynical as we left him, perhaps more so. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Trilogies, or most progression with novels in particular, usually have a slump in their sophomore book. Tomorrow the Killing throws that stereotype out the window, to its death, then crushes the thing in the mud. It’s amazing how well Polansky does in his second novel. It’s not a completely different writer, it’s just a guy who’s improved on his style, a style I so adore.

I’ll begin by saying that the prose is what you come for in this novel. It’s sarcastic; it’s black with humor. Nearly every line is quotable, even the dialogue. It’s fabulous, and I love a book that can make my slide into the stream of its narrative with ease.

“Nobody likes being told they’re walking in the wrong direction, even if the trail ends at a cliff.”
You get a smooth, albeit slow pace. I had to savor each and every word. Luckily, it wasn’t exhausting like most books I treat this way.

Unlike Low Town, we have a much tighter plot, a mystery without a flaw I could see, (even a joke in the murder) save maybe all the Warden’s time going upstairs to sleep. But hey, that’s tight plotting to a degree. Who can argue with effectiveness?

We have a fair amount of introspection, but it doesn’t bog down the story. As I said, we keep the same mellow pace throughout, even till the end. It’s really hard to pull off this slow speed and keep me invested for the whole novel. I believe it was from the short chapters that I could spring through them in a sluggish heartbeat.

And the voice.

The voice/prose is the biggest thing Polansky has going for him. It is marvelous. No, magnificent is an understatement. The only book I’ve read this year that comes close to the brilliance of his writing is The Great Gatsby. That’s a tall compliment, I know, but he deserves it. His phrasing is truly jaw-dropping. This could never be adapted to a movie; it would lose some of its appeal.

Alongside a strong tone and writing style, we have drawn-out characters, well realized and with understandable intentions. All the way from Adisu the Damned to Mazzie of the Stained Bone, the local witchdoctor who becomes little Wren’s teacher, these people are so fascinating. Really, I wanted more.

“’And leave out all that nonsense you do for the look-sees. He comes home chanting gibberish or trying to sacrifice any of our chickens and his mother will have my hide.’”

That’s essentially what this book is, character interactions in dialogue and introspection. There’s barely any violence till the last third of the novel. And when it comes, it swings hard.

Aside from the witty banter, which there is mounds of, a strong philosophy manages to weave itself between the sarcasm.

Polansky shows us through the Warden’s eyes the futility of war. He shows us how the Warden came to be so jaded. He shows a character’s plight. And I think this is where he nails the story. From a literary standpoint, this is his big achievement. Writers can have all the flowery sentences they want dotting their story, but if they can’t tell a story, then there’s no point. Tomorrow the Killing is a bleak novel, and nowhere else is this shown than in the flashbacks.

This is what a 1st person novel should be, a poem with a well-realized voice. It’s hard bitten; it’s acerbic. It’s probably the best tone I’ve ever read. My only complaint is that the ending wasn’t as strong as I would’ve liked. He could’ve cut out the final paragraph, but who cares? This story has a thousand amazing paragraphs with only one “meh.”

I can tell you right now, like Jeffrey Archer and Scott Lynch, if you haven’t picked up a novel by either of these three writers, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Tomorrow the Killing, I would argue, was probably the best book released in 2012. It may have flew under the radar, but that’s no excuse. I sure as hell can tell you it’s one of the best I’ve read in 2013.

“There’s no such thing as justice, only revenge, and once you get it you realize how little it means.”
Profile Image for Tracey the Lizard Queen.
250 reviews39 followers
November 17, 2015
My least favourite of the series, but by no means weak. The Warden is as sharp and entertaining as always.

We kick off three years after the events of The Straight Razor Cure/Low Town, between his usual "job" the Warden is also looking for a missing woman. Through various flashbacks and dialogues we learn this particular woman's deceased brother had past ties to the Warden during the war.

At the same time the Veterans Association is making trouble with the crown. Rising tensions, the hottest summer in years combined with the Warden throwing a few twigs on the bonfire result in some fireworks.

This is very much a character driven story, as before Polansky pulls it off effortlessly. The rising tension is perfectly portrayed. The Warden is a pleasure to read, as flawed as he is smart; as tough as he is cunning. A perfect contradiction of regret, bitterness and disappointment. Quite simply a great read.
Profile Image for Stretch's Books.
148 reviews15 followers
March 8, 2013
'Tomorrow the Killing' is Daniel Polansky's follow-up to his debut novel 'The Straight Razor Cure', and the book does not disappoint. Polansky executes the same action, wit, and mystery as in his debut, actually, at least in my case, he pulls the mystery part off even better. I didn't see the big reveal until, well, until it was revealed.

Polansky does a fine job of getting the reader to empathize with the Warden of Low-Town, while at the same time on another level disliking him somewhat. He also whips up a interesting tale of political intrigue, espionage, drug dealing and murder. Add to that the Warden's underlying sense of family values that he feels toward Wren, Adeline and Adolphus, and you discover quite an entertaining and complex main protaganist.

'Tomorrow the Killing' is a wonderfully written book. I look forward to another Low-Town adventure. Preferably sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Lancer.
91 reviews24 followers
April 3, 2016
This series has earned it's place on my sh lf of physical copies and absolutely stands up with some of my other favourites. It has one of my favourite fantasy settings at its forefront: the slums.

We go back and forth between the present day and the past, learning more of The Warden and Adolphus' time in the great war. We also get to see Wren grow and advance a little and I'm hoping the final book in the trilogy has a big focus on him because there is a lot of potential with his character.

This series has a great cast and The Warden is now in my top 10 or so favourite characters. Overall this book took everything great from the first book and kicked it up a notch. Highly recommended as a gritty and humourous at times fantasy in a setting that is usually only a small part of most novels.
Profile Image for Ints.
722 reviews72 followers
June 7, 2017
Šī grāmata manā nelasīto sarakstā nodzīvoja vairākus gadus. Diezgan dīvaini, jo pirmā man patika diezgan labi. Nebija gan nekādu pārsteigumu, bet visu jau nevar gribēt. Šai grāmatai paveicās, jo gaidāmajā pārlidojumā man neatradās nekā cita ko lasīt. Izlasījās pa ceļam no Rīgas uz Šanhaju.

Reiz viņš bija kara varonis, pēc tam biedrs Melnajā namā. Nu viņš ir pilsētas nomales Low Town saimnieks. Viņa nodarbe ir mazo un lielo noziedznieku darbības pārraudzīšana un jumta pakalpojuma nodrošināšana. Kara laiki jau sen ir pagājuši, taču aizmirsts nav nekas. Kad ģenerālim Montgomerijam pazūd meita, Saimnieks tiek izsaukts, un viņam tiek dots uzdevums meitu atrast un pārvest mājās.

Viss stāsts ir tikai iemesls, lai autors varētu no sirds izrunāties par pēckara tēmu. Saimnieks ir tāds sliktais puisis, kas nejauc biznesu ar personīgajām attiecībām. Savulaik daudz cietis, un savas vājās dabas dēļ cieš joprojām. Izcils personāžs tādam dinamiskam viduslaiku vides detektīvstāstam. Lai ar karš ir uzvarēts, mājās pārnākušajiem veterāniem īsti nav ko darīt, un viņi karu ir atnesuši sev līdz. Tā ir tāda kā iekonservēta armija, kas nākotnē var radīt lielas problēmas. Pavisam slikti ir tas, ka viņi ir organizēti un aizstāv savas intereses.

Saimnieks savulaik ir sapratis kara bezjēdzību, bet daudziem viņa cīņa biedriem pat norauta kāja nav samazinājusi patriotismu, kamēr vien valsts viņiem maksā, viņiem viss ir kārtībā. Netipiski fantāzijas darbiem, te ir stipri ekonomiskie un politiskie aspekti, kas nozīmē, ka pensiju naudas drīz beigsies un valstī sāksies jauna dzīve. Te dienas gaismā iznāk Saimnieka principialitāte un viņš ciest nevar cilvēkus, kas savu mērķu piepildīšanai ir gatavi saražot līķus. Taču viņš ir arī pietiekami cinisks, lai šādu notikumu pavērsienu izmantotu savā labā.

Sižets ir intrigu pārpilns piedzīvojums, kas noris uz visnotaļ reāli izveidotas pasaules fona. Te katra darbība aizskar daudzu cilvēku intereses, kas savukārt rada visnotaļ neprognozējamas sekas. Viss stāstījums ir no viena skatu punkta, galvenais vēstītājs ir Saimnieks. Mums ir jāpieņem viņa versija kā vienīgā pareizā, jo citas jau nemaz nav. Lai galvenais varonis, kurš ir kriminālās pasaules boss un narkomāns, pavisam neaizbiedētu lasītāju un ļautu viņam ar to identificēties, varonim piemīt hipertrofēta taisnīguma izjūta, atbildība par saviem tuvākajiem un globāls skatījums. Visādi citādi viņš ir gatavs pāris naudas gabalu dēļ pārgriezt rīkli jebkuram.

Taču grāmatas galvenie pozitīvie aspekti ir autora valoda un tās uzburtā drūmā atmosfēra. Lasot par Saimnieka ikdienu, tā vien šķiet, ka vēl tikai nedaudz, un tu jau pats atradīsies Low Town drūmajās ieliņās. Šī nav arī no tām, kuras gribas izlasīt vienā piegājienā, var mierīgi nekur nesteidzoties baudīt tekstu, aprakstus un domāt par to, kā gan autoram izdosies beigās visus sižeta pavērsienus sasiet kopā vienotā atrisinājumā. 9 no 10 ballēm.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
361 reviews84 followers
March 11, 2020
Very enjoyable crime/fantasy/noir, though perhaps not quite as page-turning as the first book, Low Town.

But still, you gotta love it when the main character is not a hero, not even an anti-hero, but just a slip and a fall away from being the straight-up villain.
Profile Image for Shellie (Layers of Thought).
399 reviews63 followers
December 27, 2012
Original review by John is posted at Layers of Thought.

The second in the Low Town series, this is a hard-boiled noir thriller with a touch of fantasy mixed in for good measure. A remorseless, violent and twisty story that is filled with intriguing characters.

About: The Warden, the main character, sort of rules over a squalid and drug-infested corner of Low Town. An ex-soldier and intelligence office who has fallen far from grace, he now sells (and frequently consumes) drugs. The Warden is hard, smart and extremely bitter, and he oozes cynicism.

With frequent flashbacks to the years he spent fighting for his country in a dreadful, carnage-filled war, the story starts when the Warden is summoned to the house of an old general, and finds out that the general’s daughter has run off and disappeared into Low Town. She is trying to find out why her brother was murdered several years before and who was responsible for his death. Her brother was an inspirational leader who also fought in the war; and the Warden knew him well. The Warden reluctantly agrees to help but, to no-one’s great surprise, the daughter too is brutally murdered.

This sparks a trail of revenge and destruction that envelopes both the guilty and the innocent – though it seems like in Low Town no-one is entirely innocent. Fuelled by drugs and old enmities, the Warden is pulling strings and orchestrating a lot of the violence, but inevitably things spiral way beyond his control as higher powers and politicians strive to achieve their hidden agendas.

John’s thoughts: I like the Warden – he’s a terrific character. Horrendously scarred by his troubled past, he is now a dark and dangerous man, but he hasn’t quite lost his humanity and just sometimes is driven by his sense of justice. Living in a dark and corrupt world, you can almost forgive him for some of his selfishness and outrageous actions. Here the Warden plots and schemes and has to work hard to try and stay one step ahead of an ever growing list of adversaries. He mostly succeeds but regularly ends up on the wrong side of a beating. This is not a squeaky clean hero who always gets his way. Mean while the Warden (or Polansky) has a great way with words and many of his acidic descriptions and banter brought a big smile to my face.

In this book he is surrounded by many other interesting characters – including the Warden’s giant one-eyed army buddy and business partner, the malevolent Old Man that runs the country’s internal security forces, the witch-woman Mazzie of the Stained Bone, and the psychopathic young vice-lord Adisu the Damned. As these people are woven into the story, the plot twists and turns and is unpredictable – always a good thing.

Compared with Polansky’s first Low Town novel(reviewed here http://www.layersofthought.net/2011/1... ), Tomorrow the Killing has less magic and fantastic elements and is a somewhat more realistic tale, albeit set in an alternative world. The war that provides a main foundation for the plot has a lot of parallels with World War One, and Polansky does a great job of describing its horrors. You now understand a lot more about what has shaped the Warden and made him what he is. Personally I like the more realistic orientation of this story and prefer it to his first novel.

If you haven’t read the first Polansky novel and are worried about reading this in case it doesn’t make sense – don’t! This is a complete story and stands on its own two feet. I’d rate this four stars and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes noir, crime thrillers or earthy urban tales. If you enjoyed reading Low Town, this is a “must read”.
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