I read Nothing is Ever Simple in record time. It is a short book, but packs a powerful story. Corin Hayes, to whom I was introduced in Silent City, is his usual self-deprecating, morose, sharp-witted and witty self. In this story, which follows on nicely from the first but could also be a standalone book, Corin is sent to another city to fix a problem requiring his specific fish-suit skills. Once the job is done, he relaxes, then everything in Corin’s world goes disastrously wrong.
There’s fighting, blackmail, thieving, torture, more fighting. Characters sourced from classic noir sleuth novels populate the city’s levels from rich to poor. References to literature and film that I enjoyed tremendously – especially the poetry as torture part – litter Corin’s internal dialogue. Everything, including the pots and pans, are thrown into the mix, creating a plot filled with pitfalls, wrong-turnings, painful mistakes, and a measure or four of alcohol.
He survives by using what he can to his best advantage, from high tech, to low: ‘The impact of a cast iron frying pan to your skull can make you all kinds of compliant.’
The excellent world-building of this dystopian underwater future for Earth continues. There is enough explanation, but not too much, of how things work in the city-state domes – economically, socially, structurally – to give the world Corin Hayes barely survives in authenticity. G R Matthews makes it seem possible that humans could survive in such an environment, unfortunately also bringing all their unlearned history along with them.
I look forward to the next story set in Corin Hayes tough, gritty, unfair world.
All the best
R B Watkinson