Lieutenant Donal Connor has been given the most bizarre of new cases. Four famous stage performers have died in recent months, thee of them in state capitals within Transifica, the fourth in far Zurinam. And now the idolised diva Maria deLivnova is coming to Tristopolis. Donal's boss is determined that nothing like this is ever to happen in his city. Connor is to have anything he needs, as long the diva lives.
And so begins a dark investigation through a world where corpses give up their pyschic energy in the massive necroflux generators which power the city, where gargoyles talk, where wraiths work in slavery, a world of the dead where corruption is alive.
This is an extraordinary SF novel set in alternate universe quite unlike any imagined in SF before; a universe where magic and the supernatural and the undead are given a scientific rationale and hoorfyingly plausible rationale.
The novel's setting, Tristopolis, is the ultimate noir city; an immense baroque creation of haunted stone skyscrapers, black metal and city-wide catacombs. Its hero Donal Connor is immensely likeable and easy to identify with. Even once he's dead.
This m lange of mystery, dark fantasy and over-the-top gothic horror marks a dramatic departure from Meaney's existential SF epic, the Nulapeiron Sequence. In Tristopolis, where corpses are incinerated by the thousands to produce the "necroflux" that sustains the city and its undead inhabitants, police lieutenant Donal Riordan learns that a disturbingly well-organized cult is killing the world's most talented artists. Tasked with keeping a visiting opera diva safe, the intrepid cop soon finds himself caught up in a sweeping necromantic conspiracy that could involve the very highest ranks of government. Meaney makes extensive use of dark colors and gothic imagery ("a golden clock, formed of interlocking metal bones"; "the bat-winged ambulance"), and Tristopolis is at times more fascinating than its inhabitants or the relatively conventional hard-boiled story line. With many plot threads left untied or simply ignored, readers will have to wait until future installments to pass judgment on this ambitious saga.