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9 Tail Fox

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  485 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
'9Tail Fox' is a noir melding of ancient Chinese folklore, organised crime and cutting edge medical technology.
Paperback, 326 pages
Published August 10th 2006 by Gollancz (first published October 20th 2005)
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Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
So wow, that was really good for a book picked solely on the colour if it's cover. ("What should I read next?" "I don't know, something red.") Supernatural noir set in an alternate San Francisco. Everything has a seedy underbelly. We'll call this 4.5 stars though, because the immersion broke every time a British word choice was thrown into this American setting.
Originally published at Here There Be Books.

I spotted 9Tail Fox a few months ago on Night Shade's website and wanted to read it ever since (mostly because of the cover). I found it on Amazon for a pittance, read it, and was disappointed. It's not a terrible book, but I didn't really enjoy reading it, either.

The things I liked were mostly in the writing and in the little parts of the story that didn't involve Sergeant Zha. I liked how there weren't any giant infodumps hurled at me; instead, small
Lasairfiona Smith
I want so much to like this book. The idea of a dead man waking up in another body to try and solve his own murder intrigues me but it took some serious masochism to finish the book. It could go the mythical route (a 9 tailed celestial fox shows the chinese mythos) or even an almost sci fi route (surgery?) to keep my interest. Unfortunately, this book goes nowhere. The main character, Zha, has the makings of a well rounded little sh*t whose flaws outweigh his plusses who just might try to make i ...more
Jan 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sf residents
Sort of disposeable, read-it-in-a-day supernatural detective techno thriller.

In a near-future San Francisco, Detective Sergeant Bobby Zha is killed investigating a break-in in Chinatown. He awakes in the body of a white man who's been in a coma ward in NYC for 20 years. Luckily, the body he's wearing is the heir to a sizable settlement over the car crash that left it comatose, so Bobby zips back to SF to investigate his death. Police corruption and brain-swapping technothriller hijinks ensue.

Isabel (kittiwake)
The fox was pure white and carried its tail high and curled like flame over its back. Its eyes were red as coals, fierce with anger. White canines showed on either side of its mouth.
'Jinwei hu,' said Bobby.
The fox nodded, even though Bobby had only said the name in his head. Somewhere on Grant Avenue a kid let off a string of firecrackers left over from the night before and the fox grinned.

Although both books have a police detective as a main character, "9tail Fox" is completely different from t
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I very much enjoyed Grimwood's Ashraf Bey trilogy, though was a little less convinced by either his earlier redRobe or his more recent Stamping Butterflies. I'm glad to report (IMHO) a return to form. Like the Ashraf Bey trilogy this is essentially a police procedural in a somewhat alternative history version of a famous port city with distint sfnal overtones to do with technological brain enhancements. (So we have identified what he does wel ...more
I adored the Arabesk series (start with Pashazade!), so when I was wandering through the SF section and saw this novel, I grabbed it.

(I had forgotten he wrote another book I didn't like as much, I only noticed when I looked for the name of that book just now. Hunh.)

Anyway. This was wonderful - sort of a supernatural detective story, set in alternate San Francisco. (About which I know very little, so if there were geographical problems, I would never have known.) Has the sort of frenetic feel of
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cool idea, but kind of a mess in the execution. Dead cop must solve his own murder. It's kind of noir-ish, which I enjoy, but the plot is convoluted even by noir detective standards, and, in the end, I didn't feel like it all made much sense. Annoyance: our main character is supposed to be kind of a jerk, but he's always having sex and then making sure to tell us that he "smells her on his fingers." Not sure what the author was aiming at here, but it comes across as frat boyish. Major distractio ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book vastly- however, I enjoyed it for reasons that may not have an appeal for everybody else under the sun.
#1: I find Chinese religion and cosmology a fascinating thing to poke around at.
#2: I live in the city where it is set, and know the area of town that it takes place in quite well.
#3: I have a great weakness for foxes.

These three things- which I found the book to be full of (and well-written about)- are things which wouldn't necessarily appeal to anyone else. As a result, I
I really enjoyed the pace and POV of this book. I will definitely read more of this author.

The sci-fi elements of this book were almost too subtle to call it sci-fi; it also carried elements of what I would typically call fantasy. Yet combined as they were, it was a very satisfying, interesting story. I appreciate the ease with which Jon Grimwood crosses the boundaries of the genres; nothing awkward there.

I am going to with-hold my judgements of gender-based stereo-types for this first book I'
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a police procedural with a sf/fantasy premise -- San Francisco Sargeant Bobby Zha is killed yet returns as another man to solve the crime. I couldn't follow the story very well and I knew that there were major holes in it. On the other hand, I raced through the novel to see what happened to several sympathetic characters -- Bobby Zha, his daughter Kris, and Officer Felicidad Valdez. Grimwood's writing is stylish in a good way and he uses San Francisco well. One amusing aspect of the book ...more
Jul 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The promise of crime noir and Chinese folk magic drew me in. The core premise was interesting enough (a hard-boiled SF detective wakes up in someone else's body and sets out to solve his own murder), but I sometimes felt that some of the interesting SF/fantastic premises throughout the story were sometimes forced and the various threads were not tied together at the end as neatly as the reader might expect. That said, the core detective thriller was solid and the gritty Chinatown setting well de ...more
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
9TAIL FOX eschews most of the cyberpunk trappings of Grimwood’s earlier works, going for a hardcore detective noir feel with Chinese mystical underpinnings. The novel revolves around San Francisco vice cop Bobby Zha, a less-than-perfect guy who gets killed in the book’s opening. Mysterious (or possibly mystical) forces intervene, and Zha is given a chance to find out what the hell is going on – and maybe find a bit of personal redemption in the process.

Daisy Gould
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found it quite hard to follow, however, that may be because I am not really used to the genre. Although I found some of the characters quite interesting, particularly the homeless bunch, I found that it kind of fell a little flat. It started out well but as I continued to read it lead me to disappointment. Some of the concepts were shocking and the underlying idea was very imaginative, but it did not appear to have been completely thought out and the final explanation that tied everything toge ...more
Neil Pearson
A little bit underwhelming. The writing was very nice and the characters interesting but the mystery was a bit of a let down and generally a bit sparse. The first death scene was very well written and there was a beautiful bittersweet parargraph concerning a yard-dog that highlighted Grimwood's gift with words. I think the best analogy for this book is that it felt like a good tv episode, not a great film.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katherine by: Paula
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, scifi
Excellent premise with a flagging execution. I could not for the life of me figure out how Zha knew that investigating multiple seemingly-unrelated mysteries would not only solve his murder but bring everyone suddenly to justice. Not bad, but for those who like unusual mysteries, I would recommend Mieville's The City and the City instead.
Clifford Terry
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon Courtenay Grimwood mixes genres blending a Hammett-style noir with Chinese mysticism and historical elements. With his intricate plots and engaging characters, after reading two of his books he is fast becoming one of my favourite writers.
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, scifi
This book was not what they're selling you on the back cover. But I was very glad the book was better than I expected - very engaging. I particularly liked that the author doesn't waste time explaining how impossible things happen - that's such a good mental jumping-off point.
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly i thought it was Meh. I had an issue with the ending rear ended by the climax. I found the story and world to be interesting. It was one of very few mystery novels that I was able to finish. Personally I rate it 2.5 of 5. I may recommend to a limited group.
Jun 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
San Francisco police officer Bobby Zha is murdered, and then wakes up in somebody else's body. He has to solve his own murder, and try to make up for some of the mistakes he made in his life. A gripping and well-written thriller with a not-entirely-likeable protagonist.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this but actually I didn't care by the end about any of the characters.

The premise is interesting, a cop investigating his own death with some supernatural overtones but what it delivered was a rambling text with largely forgettable characters.

Your mileage may vary.
Oct 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I liked this book, but it didn't quite do it. Good beginning, OK end, but it got totally lost in the middle.

Nice writing, though.
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cracking murder mystery with Asian mythology & a bit of mad scienc to boot.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an enjoyable read, but I'm not sure I understood the overall point. As in: why was the protagonist chosen to be "resurrected?" I'm not so sure "solving his own murder" was really the answer?
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An almost mainstream story from JCG . . . but not quite. This would make a good film. A detective wakes up in the body of someone else and sets out to find his killer.
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Fascinating book!!!!
It was interesting, just not keeping me as entertained as my other books... so I decided to move on.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed being placed into the world surrounding these characters and story. This book easily would have had a five star rating if there weren't some key loose ends not tied up.
Fiona Nevada
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bit too much gratuitous sex for my liking. Didn't endear the main character to me ( his new incarnation was supposed to be much improved). But overall plot, storytelling and pace was good.
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'Tough, sexy and brutal, but leavened with sharp humour... Grimwood is a name to watch.' The Times

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from novels he writes for magazines and newspapers. He travels extensively and undertakes a certain amount of consulting. Until recently he wrote a monthly
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