Sundown: Derailing Dystopia - Book 1
by Carl H. Mitchell
Bookside Press

"An infant could be sold on the black market for ten times a police detective’s annual salary. An infant was a form of currency, readily convertible at a moment’s notice."

In 2057, the world’s oil supply has been decimated by a biological agent. What little is left has come under the control of the World Council. The Council’s international law supersedes the law of various nations. They control birth rates, energy, and the world through their policies. Jason Beck is the head of the World Council, and he governs with complete control. NYC detective Nick Garvey is concerned with more pressing matters. The vice president and four secret service agents are murdered and dumped on the steps of city hall. The president is due to visit for an ambitious energy project in a few short weeks, and the mayor is demanding answers.

Nick and his partner, Tim Branson, are put on the case. They shouldn’t expect much help as the NYPD has been cut by two-thirds, and much of the police work is either taken over by the World Council or is under the thumb of neighborhood groups labeled paracops. Nick decides to pull some strings with his ex-partner, Gerry Martin. Gerry now works for the World Council. Nick suspects the World Council may be involved, but Gerry is doubtful. However, shortly after their conversation, Gerry is murdered. As Nick closes in on the Council, he makes an alliance with a group of paracops and enlists the help of a young man Nick recently arrested for helping kidnap babies. Nick finds himself in possession of a sealed box Beck desperately wants and calls a mysterious number which is a direct line to the president. As Nick gets close to the truth, his granddaughter is kidnapped, and he has little time to unravel the various threads.

Mitchell’s novel is set in the near future. It is best described as a crime thriller within an environmental dystopia. Unlike climate change dystopias like American War by Omar El Akkad or The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, the environmental disasters in Mitchell’s book are caused by 20,000 eco-terrorists. Additionally, in what is also identified as a view of the conservative evangelical right, Mitchell’s book has a future dominated by an evil and greedy one-world government. However, readers shouldn’t be concerned that the novel is heavily politicized. To its core, this is a crime-thriller with a grizzled yet likable detective for whom readers will empathize and root. Nick Garvey is reminiscent of a character in the late 80s and 90s cop shows and movies. He is a bit of a Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon but more calculating. Mitchell has created a fantastic, believable future perfect for a career policeman like Nick to operate within.

Although this book is longer than many crime offerings, Mitchell’s tight control of his narrative, compelling characters, and well-drawn setting lead to a surprisingly quick and satisfying read. The book is skillfully written and has clearly been under the watchful eye of proficient editors. Readers who might pause at the thought of a book set in the future should put that idea aside. It is much less inspired by Blade Runner than it is by Dashiel Hammet or Raymond Chandler. Not only will readers enjoy this book, but they will also be clamoring for the next one.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home