Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson

The Dewey Decimal System is a fun, noir murder mystery by first time novelist Nathan Larson.

Sometime in the not too distant future, New York has suffered from another terrorist attack, 2/14 as it is called, and a total collapse.  The protagonist,  Dewey Decimal, has taken up residence in the New York City Public Library.  He is a germ freak, is obsessed with Purell TM, has a "system" (he must travel according to specific algorithms), appears to be a former soldier (his memory seems to have been erased) and lives "off the grid."  Decimal is assigned by the New York District Attorney to hunt down a man.  Rapidly, Decimal finds himself caught in a violent conflict between the DA, the FBI and former Eastern European thugs.  Alliances shift, people die and Decimal tries to stay faithful to his internal ethical compass.  Throughout, Decimal whirls through post-apocalyptic New York

The narration is strong, allowing Decimal to come across clearly.  The narrative style reminded me of Ken Bruen's mystery series.  While it is clear that "bad things" happened in New York, Larson never conveys exactly what happened.  It is effective to keep the reader engaged and avoids the author from artificially entering the story with an explanation.  Larson has a firm grasp of New York City, which ends up being one of the key supporting characters in the story.  My only critique is that Decimal has a significant surgery early in the book and has a miraculous (and not plausible) recovery.  Aside from this slip, the book worked.

I came across this novel because my friends at the Mysterious Bookshop got behind this author and printed a special edition of the book.  If you are looking for something light and engaging, this is a good choice.  Be aware, like books of this genre, it is appropriately violent.

I couldn't find an author interview video but came across Cookie Monster in the Library and it made me smile.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Morris,
    Hate to contact you publically like this, but couldn't find another way. Came across your review of Dewey Decimal on Amazon, and thought you might like my book, Loisaida -- A New York Story. You can go to this page: for info and/or find it on Amazon. If you read electronic books, I can get you a freebie coupon for any format. If you are strictly a dead-tree man, that could be arranged (though I'd prefer you browse the sample on Googlebooks first to make sure it suits.) Please write me at if interested.