An inventive blend of science fiction, hard-boiled detective yarn and will-they-or-won’t-they relationship drama ... Kay is a likable, no-nonsense protagonist whose narration calls to mind old film noirs ... Pardo... pulls off a difficult feat, delivering a novel that’s both topical and entertaining. The Shamshine Blind, a not-so-veiled condemnation of religious fanaticism and pharmaceutical-industry profiteering, asks American readers to imagine themselves as unwilling hosts to foreign troops. It’s an effective, if discomforting, thought experiment.
This science-fictional noir will appeal to readers who have fallen hard for the upswing in blended SF/mysteries such as John Scalzi’s Lock In and Dispatcher series. The blend brings a new twist to both parts of its equation, with the mystery and all its delicious red herrings set in a world not quite like the present. Curtida fits right into the mold of the noir detective while giving Sam Spade and company an entirely different perspective as a neuro-atypical Latinx protagonist.
This thriller ironically loses the plot from time to time, but given the phantasmagoric playground grounded in very real, painful emotions, readers are likely to enjoy the ride just fine. A heady, deep-dyed debut that suggests more thought-provoking work to come.