I like Angry Robot books. There’s something appealing about their fusion of comforting, mass-market packaging and elbowy, in-your-face 21st century attitude. It’s probably because of this that I picked up Damage Time (2010) by Colin Harvey, an author with whom I’m otherwise unfamiliar. I understand he passed away just this summer; it’s a shame we won’t get to see more of his energetic authorial voice.
Damage Time is a gritty, near-future police procedural about Detective Pete Shah, a New York City cop who specializes in analyzing the recorded memories of homicide victims in order to identify and track down the perpetrators. Shah, a 70-year-old on the last legs of his career, stumbles into a frame when he encounters an attractive prostitute named Aurora – and wakes up the prime suspect in a murder case. Shah’s investigation puts him on the trail of a brutal criminal whose M.O. involves cruelly stealing the memories of his victims.
Like Angry Robot, Damage Time is an interesting blend of both old-school and contemporary sensibilities. It mixes a nostalgic-feeling, big city gumshoe mystery with sharp-eyed, gritty near-future worldbuilding. In Shah and Aurora, Harvey presents an odd and unique relationship, and the prose crackles along briskly. That said, while the novel reads quickly enough at the sentence level, it’s perhaps a bit inelegant structurally, and definitely overlong; it felt to me like the story could have resolved itself more quickly than it does. But overall, a fun, agreeable read.