This is the BEST book I have ever read. I have reread it more than ten times since I was a teenager. Why? First, it does in one book what Patricia Cornwell, Susan Hill, and Dennis Lehane can do with all of their books combined. I have read hundreds of crime novels over the years. City of the Dead is the gold standard. There's nothing quite like it. Second, the story changes each time you reread it. Its urban setting breathes down your throat. The emotional undercurrents make you wince. It is intricate and ambitious. It is bleak and morbid. You "change" alongside the characters in the book. Third, this novel made me pick up everything by Lieberman. You might also want to try Crawlspace. Another one of his books, Nightbloom, is also quite good but not as powerful as City of the Dead. What comes close to Herbert Lieberman's artistic swagger is a Thomas Harris with the gritty sensationalist fervor of an Ira Levin.
Here's a well-thought review by Cosma Shalizi. Shalizi articulated a common theme that was prevalent among the various commentary I'd read about Lieberman: that sadly little is known about Lieberman. There's only basic information on his wiki page. There's nothing on his Amazon author page.
What prompted me to blog about this is the unending wake of the famous Fifty Shades of Grey, a book so badly written it made my eyes water with disgust. It's that bad. And I just had to see it, the same way some people like dangerous sports that involved cliffs and rappelling.
I realized that books survive (or not) through the collective devotion (or the lack thereof) of their readers. That's what happened to the marvelous House of Leaves and its cult following.
I hope Herbert Lieberman will develop a cult following.
I think we should talk about our favorite books, our favorite writers. That way, they live on. Think The Neverending Story and Falkor (because I love Falkor).
Almost 2AM here. Night.
Meditations of a Beast
Age of Blight
A Roomful of Machines
We Bury the Landscape