Depth combines hardboiled mystery and dystopian science fiction in a future where the rising ocean levels have left New York twenty-one stories under water and cut off from the rest of the United States. But the city survives, and Simone Pierce is one of its best private investigators. Her latest case, running surveillance on a potentially unfaithful husband, was supposed to be easy. Then her target is murdered, and the search for his killer points Simone towards a secret from the past that can’t possibly be real—but that won’t stop the city’s most powerful men and women from trying to acquire it for themselves, with Simone caught in the middle.
Without a doubt, my favourite thing about the novel is the setting — a partially submerged New York City, cut off from the (now-fundamentalist-Christian) mainland. The first 21 storeys are underwater, only tower blocks and sky-scrapers inhabitable — each stitched together by bridges of varying quality and safety. Rosen doesn’t give us too much about the city, but it is unquestionably a character in itself. Every scene offers a new description and development, letting readers know how the city has changed over the decades since the oceans rose, and the methods used by New Yorkers to adapt. The fundamentalist swing of the mainland was amusing to read, even though it’s mainly just offered in passing as a contrast to New York.
The story itself was pretty straight-forward, and I appreciated the fact that Rosen wove it into this world. It wasn’t the best PI/detective story I’ve ever read, and I’m sad to say I wasn’t fully gripped throughout — I ended up far more interested in visualizing the city, rather than following the case. There were moments of excellence (in particular, a handful of turns of phrase that were fantastic).
This was a pretty interesting novel and a quick read. While a bit slow, and not as gripping as I had hoped, it’s still a good introduction to this post-apocalyptic New York City. I would certainly read more novels in this setting.