Publication Date: September 5, 2014
In Nica of Los Angeles by Sue Perry, Nica is something of a former transient looking to settle into the job of a private eye. When she accepts a case that takes her into a new dimension, she finds that with everything sentient, everything is a danger. As she becomes familiar with the world, Nica starts to understand its true power and the impact the parallel world could have on her cases in the real world and how in danger everyone in that world may be.
Sue Perry attempts a unique story with depth in Nica of Los Angeles. Perry starts strong. She establishes Nica fairly quickly and dives into the action but the story starts to lose something as it goes on. There are wisps that simply get too caught up in their own complexity. Nica also seems to be suffering from some perennial curse.
We meet Nica as she’s meeting some clients that she finds repulsive. The child-like assessment of her visitors paints a picture of a very young woman. She mentions drifting from career to career and sort of giggles at herself and the cache of the title “private detective.” In normal circumstances, that sort of person would immediately put the reader on edge but Perry’s artful and somewhat surreal presentation of the scene softens the blow. The story is a bit disorganized because we are with Nica and her stream of contagiousness take on all situations. She’s in one place and just happens to think of someone and suddenly we find her in another. I wondered at points if Perry was making a philosophical point about the way mental illness leads people to view the world but as the Frame world became clear, it was merely part of a setting destined to quite odd.
Nica of Los Angele uses the geographical landscape of California and Nica’s love of it to enhance her story in a very clever way. No matter how familiar you are with the area, you will recognize names of landmarks and they will spring to mind giving shape to Nica’s much-loved hometown leading readers to perhaps find Nica more down to earth than our first impression of her. I won’t say that I ever grew to like the somewhat flighty main character but I felt more of a kinship with her by the end of the book.
The mystery story line in Frame World and the missing child in the real world mesh well. Perry’s writing reminds me a bit of Jasper Fforde’s “Shades of Grey” in her presentation of the more surreal points. They are presented in a very matter-of-fact way and perhaps Nica is the perfect person to introduce us to lawn chairs that feel and books that can kill. Despite the ridiculousness around them, all of the characters behave in a way that is very real and to which readers will easily relate. Perry is clearly a fan of the classic noir mystery genre and calls out to those characters many times in the series. The end feel isn’t quite mystery noir, but it’s certainly where the Frames series could go fully as it progresses.
Nica of Los Angeles is the first novel in the Frames series and suffers certain trademark of first novel problems. At the end of the read, the Frame world and its implications in the noir mystery genre could make quite an interesting crossover genre series. Nica of Los Angeles was certainly worth reading as a framework for the future of the series. Perry is a strong writer with a style that eases a reader into her multifaceted style. If you like fantasy and parallel worlds, pick Nica of Los Angeles up today.
You can read an excerpt and buy Nica of Los Angeles by Sue Perry on