Space Opera Noir — The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson

The Ultra Thin Man is a space opera noir following Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization as they attempt to unravel an interstellar conspiracy that stretches from the highest rungs of society to the terrorist Movement of Worlds, led by an alien giant, Terl Plenko.

Swenson effortless adapts a number of noir tropes to his twenty-second century setting. Dave Crowell could have stepped out of the pages of a Dashiell Hammett novel, appropriate given the title. The narrative style emulates hardboiled detective fiction without becoming pastiche or loosing sight of the futuristic setting. Indeed, this is a richly detailed interplanetary world, filled with aliens, terrorists, refugee camps, crashing moons, and the titular Thin Men. This combination of pitch perfect noir and genuine world building is often attempted, but rarely with this degree of success.

The mystery itself is engaging and suitably full of twists and turns. Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos split up to pursue congruent, ultimately connected investigations and this serves to keep the pace moving.

The Ultra Thin Man gestures towards deeper questions, especially with regards to the Thin Men and Brindos’ arc, but is content to remain within its comfort zone and be exactly what it is—an intelligent, fast-moving slice of sci-fi noir.

 

**Received copy from NetGalley for Review

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