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A Man of Shadows

(John Nyquist #1)

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,023 ratings  ·  171 reviews
The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer k
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Angry Robot
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Brett Either would apply in my opinion, but on balance adult seems the most appropriate.

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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  1,023 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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This is a multi genre sci-fi thriller that is dark, intelligent, atmospheric and decidedly ambiguous. It is guaranteed to absorb and provoke thought. Jeff Noon engages in the heavily detailed world building of a city concealed amongst us by a dome. Half of the city, lit by lamps, exists in endless sunlight, and the other half in Dusk, wherein lies the odd and all the horrors of darkness. The two zones are connected by train. Within this weird world, time is money, a commodity to be traded and wh ...more
I think this book should be proud to sit atop the "New Weird" label.

It is like Dark City, a potboiler Noir with a very timey-wimey worldbuilding twist.

For the early part of the novel, it's all hardboiled detective stuff and it's familiar and fun, but I for one was clicking my teeth for the moment it started showing me the good stuff. And it did... in time zones.

A city all in man-made darkness, stars that never moved, where time is a relative thing, where industry collapses when certain pieces o
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.
A former professor of mine was fond of saying that great art is not merely engaged with, but surrendered to. That particular quality of experience – the willing submission of the viewer to the mastery of the art object itself – is hard to nail down in words; so then, is the absence of that quality. This, in a nutshell, is the ambition of the critic – to find the words to relate that experience, or lack thereof (or the gray in between) to other potential consumers of said object.
Jeff No
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I think this book suffered both from my misplaced expectations and a poor handling of genres.

In the first case what I expected to read and what the book actually contained were rather different. Based on the description I expected a detective/noir story set in a city with one part in permanent light and the other in permanent darkness. I thought this was a cool idea and would play well into the idea of a literal dark side of a city that is metaphorically prevalent in the noir genre. There is lot
David Katzman
Ugh, Jeff Noon. Dammit. He's never lived up to his first two novels. I loved Vurt, one of the earliest cyberpunk novels, and Pollen, a tripped out cyber-environmental apocalypse. But I was meh on Automated Alice and Nymphomation. I actively disliked A Man of Shadows.

Ostensibly, a science-fictional/fantasy noir detective story, it falls down on all accounts. The main character, the detective, is a sad sack. A rather pathetic failure who gets beat up a lot and only succeeds by accident. At times,
Liz Barnsley
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really will never look at time passing in the same way again.

Sometimes a book comes along that just ticks every box in the “things I love about reading” stakes – A Man of Shadows is such a novel, so incredibly immersive, such brilliantly incisive descriptive prose and a set of fascinating, beautifully imagined characters – that you just dive into it with abandon and leave the real world behind.

A Man of Shadows has a decisively built world, a world of literal light dark and shade, where time is
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After a re-read..I loved this novel. Originally a 3.5* but Noon at his best!!

What a strange and weird rollercoaster ride. This blend of detecitve street noir with new weird scifi world buidling creates a completely new type of experience for the reader. Its not as quirky as Vurt but very close. Two cities each different in their own way but the distinguishing feature is the daylight and perpetual darkness of them both. Time is a currency of sorts, and this has a huge influence on the themes and
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
I just recently learned the term "new weird" fiction, but I think it can be applied to this book. It's sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy and detective noir, so there's a lot going on here. John Henry Nyquist is a private detective looking for the missing 18 year old Eleanor Bale. Robert Mitchum could have played Nyquist in the movie. It turns out that Eleanor is not just a runaway, she plays an important role in the very strange world created by the author.

The action takes place in a city comprised
Scott  Hitchcock
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, sci-fi, mystery
Fact: I don't like noir fiction for the most part. I loved this. The best noir I've ever read .

Fact: I generally like character driven stories. This is completely world driven. The characters are merely a conduit for which to experience this vivid, original, amazing and very strange world. Usually I can hate characters and that's as good as liking them. By the end I did embrace the two main characters but only because the world drew me into them.

Fact: This is the most original world and story s
Adrian Dooley
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
A sci-fi thriller of sorts. Interesting if slightly confusing ideas and ultimately too much of a narrative on the world created rather than on telling the story left me cold.

The story takes place in a city made up of three distinct parts - Dayzone, which is permanently bright thanks to the billions of neon lights covering the area, Nocturna, which is permanently dark and Dusk, which seperetaes the two areas, a type of no mans land which is avoided at all costs, neither light nor dark and covere
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came onto my radar kind of randomly. I downloaded Body Library by Jeff Noon on Netgalley to try a new author only to realize that it was a sequel. So I figured why not check out the original and got the Audible version of that. Very glad I did too. Usually I’m content for the audio book just to entertain me sufficiently on my walks, this one surpassed expectations by actually encouraging long walks to find out how the plot unfolds. Mind you, it’s quite a strange book, not sure what the ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read once that taking away watches and clocks from people and not allowing them to know the time will slowly drive them mad. After reading this book I can believe it.

It starts out as a hard-boiled detective story set in a world that feels like a futuristic version of the 1950's. The city is split into three different zones, Nocturna that is eternal night, Dusk, a place of fog and monsters where it is always twilight and no-one dare go, and Dayzone, a world of bright neon lights where it never
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, read-2017
5 Stars

A Man of Shadows by John Nyquist is a terrific summer science fiction read. I absolutely loved it and had a blast with this one.

An awesome start to a series.

Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I don’t know how to describe this book because I feel there are two potential stories here and the way they were blended together left me confused and a little underwhelmed.

My main issue with this book stems from the feeling that there were two different worlds, or, I don’t know, major story elements maybe, that belonged in two different books. There is one world with the cities of Dayzone, Nocturna and Dusk (that apparently reside in a seemingly
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Time, time, time/See what's become of me"

While reading A Man of Shadows I found myself becoming wary of every timepiece in my house. Why does the microwave clock read 11:45 when the oven clock reads 10:32 and the wall clock reads 2:55?
Which is th correct time? If I call the speaking clock number will anyone answer? Can anyone tell me "at the tone the time will be..." or am I on my own? Who decides what time it is for me?

In short this book has caused me a great deal of anxiety. With a major bir
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a book! Jeff Shadows does a remarkable job of bringing a thoroughly surreal setting to life.

Dayzone and Nocturna, two cities separated by Dusk, each having decided to live in perpetual light or dark. Citizens run on separated zones of time; and into this dazzlingly original setting steps John Nyquist, detective on a mission. And it's with his introduction that I realised this - no matter the setting - was a classic noir novel. We never step foot in his office, dead messages, unpaid bills, a
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful blend of sci-fi and mystery with a noir feel. Jeff Noon is a master of descriptive prose. Intricate writing and vivid depictions bring the complex world to life. Its dark, disturbing with plenty of bizareness thrown into the mix. Amazing world building in a city where time is a commodity and citizens move from one time to another adjusting their wristwatches to match one of the different timelines on offer. The city is split into 3 zones: Dayzone where darkness has been banished by b ...more
Steven Shaviro
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of Jeff Noon ever since his debut novel, VURT, from 1993. Noon's latest novel is a noir detective thriller, set in a city divided into two zones, Dayzone, where it is always bright daylight. and Nocturna, where it is always nighttime. In both cases we have artificial day and night: Dayzone is lit with so much artificial light, bulbs and neon lights and whatever, that you cannot see the sky at all -- it is huamn-made illumination however high up you go. Nocturna also seems to be ...more
Read Between The Vines
I DNF’d this super early (less than 15% from memory)

The writing style was not for me and I couldn’t get over it to even read further, story did seem interesting though
Tris Matthews
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is the worst book I've ever read. Literally.
I've started worse books, but given up... but this one I stuck with to the bitter, meandering, pointless end.
It is bad on so many levels.
Awkward punctuation, sentences spliced together with straining commas.
Terrible narration:
Bale pleaded with her. "Please..."!
No subtle demonstration of characters feelings and motivations. Nope. Just statements that don't fit the scene/character.
Inconsistent characters. All are normal one minute and crazy the n
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was visually stunning. It would make a beautiful movie. I'd love to see Guillermo Del Toro take it on! It has this incredible science-fiction world building, combined with a hard-boiled detective story and a super-eerie sort of otherworldly horror. Engrossing.
Matthew Taylor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd say the three words I'd use to describe this novel are confused, complicated and 'meh'.

A Man of Shadows tells the story of a private detective named Nyquist, whose life seems to be slowly falling to pieces. However, he still manages to get hired by a super-rich CEO, who needs to find his daughter, Eleanor. What then ensues is Nyquist running around this fantasy world in an ever-deepening state of obsession and delirium attempting to catch Eleanor and save her for a reason which was not expla
Tim Reus
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: new-weird
Interesting premise and setting, but the writing is terrible and I don't think anyone on the writing or editing team has ever heard of show, don't tell. Also, there are no likeable characters. Maybe that's the point, but then it's just not for me.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely clever and thought-provoking, especially during the first half.

I tried really hard to finish it, but in the end I gave up with only 50 pages to go. It was a combination of things really: as a fan of Vurt and Pixeljuice, I was rather looking forward to Noon's crazy drug-infused style. Instead what I got was something disappointingly sober. This is not the Jeff Noon of yesteryears and I understand people can change their style, however I really felt cheated in a way.

The story itself in theory should have worked, I loved the idea of Dayzone, the Dusk and Noct
Mason Jones
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This one's tough to put a star rating on, but I'll have to give it three rather than two. I certainly didn't dislike it, and read it through happily enough, but it's one of those books that feels like a missed opportunity. The setting is terrific: a city divided into Dayzone and Nocturna, with Dusk as a limbo in-between zone. Dayzone is always lit, while in Nocturna it's always night, and in both time is mutable, with different timelines created and sold on a whim so everyone is constantly setti ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
This put me in mind of China Mieville’s The City and the City. The basic context is fascinating - Dayzone where the city is never dark and perpetually lit by lightbulbs and mirrors and glass; Nocturna, the darkened half of the city, and a misty mysterious untamed borderland between them called Dusk. In this context, time has become personalised and fluid, and people exist and live along timelines of their own choosing, often multiple chronologies at once. This is a fascinating idea, but really p ...more
Helen French
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sffh, netgalley, 2018
This is a dark, noir, crazily inventive, weird science fiction book.

Nyquist is a detective (rather by the numbers sadly, drunk, pursuing a case no matter what even though we don't know why, a total mess) who lives in a strange city of three parts. One, the Dayzone, forever cast in artificial light, another Nocturna, where it is permanently dark and fake constellations show people the way home, and another the mysterious Dusk, where people can hardly take one footstep after another without going
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
I liked several of Jeff Noon's previous books, and persevered through this one because of a good review in Asimov's Magazine. But I didn't like it. Yes, there's a noir detective tale in there, which eventually comes to an actual resolution, thus two stars rather than one. And the world is built on some interesting premises about time and about light, dark, and in between. It's surreal; I kept thinking of the Dali painting of the melting watch.

But the book seems more about style than substance,
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Jeff Noon is a novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works make extensive use of wordplay and fantasy.

He studied fine art and drama at Manchester University and was subsequently appointed writer in residence at the city's Royal Exchange theatre. But Noon did not stay too long in the theatrical world, possibly because the realism associated with the theatre was not conducive to the fant


Other books in the series

John Nyquist (3 books)
  • The Body Library (John Nyquist, #2)
  • Creeping Jenny (John Nyquist, #3)

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