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The City Under the Skin

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  275 Ratings  ·  40 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 (first published 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Samet Safkan
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Kitabın sonunu daha güzel bağlayabilirmiş. Biraz sıradan olmuş.
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ik hoop dat mijn mening anders was geweest als ik het boek in de oorspronkelijke taal had gelezen...
Het was geen slecht boek. Het las makkelijk weg, was vermakelijk en niet al te voorspelbaar.

Maar spectaculair was het allerminst. Er was een immense opbouw, een kort maar krachtig 'hoogtepunt'. En toen kwam de afsluiting, de clue en de oplossing. In voor mijn gevoel niet meer dan 3 zinnen. "Die heeft dit gedaan, die heeft dat gedaan, hij bekent dit, zij bekent dat en zo loopt het af." Niet erg bev
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Vera VB
Meneer Wrobleksi leeft aan de rand van de stad in een groot verlaten industriëel pand waar hij ruimte heeft voor zijn passie: hij heeft iets met landkaarten.

Zak is verkoper in een winkel waar men kaarten verkoopt, wegenkaarten, landkaarten, kortom alles wat met cartografie te maken heeft. De winkel draait niet goed, maar daar heeft de eigenaar precies geen probleem mee. Zak verveelt zich en staart veel naar buiten. Op een dag ziet hij hoe een vrouw ontvoert wordt in een Cadilac. Maar niet voorda
Mieke Schepens
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een cover die meteen wat over het verhaal vertelt; een blote rug van een vrouw waar een plattegrond op te zien is. Maar waarvan?

'Stad van inkt' is een thriller die anders is dan thrillers die ik gewend ben te lezen, het is geen actiethriller maar een boeiende 'langzame', enigszins amusante thriller. Wat me vooral opviel was de droge humor die de auteur hanteert.
Korte hoofdstukken bestaande uit verschillende verhaallijnen, zorgen voor een afwisseling die nodig is in het verhaal.
Ondanks dat ik al
Uwe Hook
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Dan Downing
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Maybe it's just not my type, but this book was a disappointment. I really wanted to like the characters but they just didn't come alive and the plot fell flat. The premise was interesting but nothing, the city, characters, action or motivation, ever seemed real. I think it could have been a great book and the author has a good style. I hope to read another book by him sometime to see if it's just me.
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Geoff Nicholson is one of a kind, and this delirious story of involuntary tattoos, cartography, mob violence, real estate development gone wrong and dermatology is almost impossible to describe in any cogent way. Needless to say, it is enormously clever, exceedingly insightful about what it means to be lost, and hauntingly strange. It's also very funny, erudite and deeply bizarre. Highly recommended.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
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.

Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, mystery
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.
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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.
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
i don't know why, but Nicholson's writing style reminds me of Neil Gaiman's. i like it.

very interesting premise, main characters developed well enough i guess within the short time frame of the book, wasn't especially thrilling in the typical sense. but overall, it was an enjoyable and short read.
Jul 06, 2016 added it
This novel started out with a very interesting concept of something I always found pretty boring. Maps are the central area here which would turn some people off but like I said, it did start out very creatively and had me holding on. But by the end I felt cheated. The plot just fell flat and in the end it's just a waste of time
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked 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.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
You know when you are reading a book and it is so good you start casting the movie in your head? This book is not what I expected, but was exactly what I wanted to read. Witty dialog, fast-paced plot and some very interesting, though perhaps not totally realistic, characters, this was such a fun read. A perfect travel book.
Paul Secor
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I really liked this book. The storyline was really interesting to me and I loved how it played out in the end. My only problem with it is that the story moved so fast that the characters weren't quite believable.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
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.
Errol Hess
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not your ordinary book. A delightful tour of cartography collection via a mysterious group of women who have maps tatooed on their bodies. Some mystery and sleuthing is involved. Not auite magical realism, but fun in the same way.
Leah Lucci
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
I grabbed this book on a whim at the library, but thought it was boring.

Which is hard to believe because it's about women getting abducted -- and receiving tattoos with weird abstract maps on them.

Come on, you've gotta admit that the premise is bangin'.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Creepy. Entertaining.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This was OK... sort of like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Jul 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is horrible!
Dec 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Entertaining, fast read. Nothing especially ground breaking, but pleasurable
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm so glad this man is still writing novels.
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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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