In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one―alive or dead, human or alien―is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it's up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell' and Brindos's investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.
The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister―an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.
In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?
“Patrick Swenson keeps the pages turning in this slick, clever noir novel. Wonderful world-building, a terrific read, and an auspicious debut: truly the stuff that dreams are made of.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of RED PLANET BLUES
“Future noir hasn’t been this good since Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A fast read packed with great ideas and fascinating characters. I couldn’t put it down.” —Ted Kosmatka, author of PROPHET OF BONES and THE GAMES
“In THE ULTRA THIN MAN, two detectives have to deal with the dangers of interplanetary unrest, futuristic drug smuggling, and old loves. Swenson delivers a fast-moving and voicy exploration of the underbelly of a bright future for mankind.” —Brenda Cooper, author of THE DIAMOND DEEP
“Patrick Swenson charts a twisty journey through a futuristic landscape of aliens, detectives, murder, political intrigue, grand space opera, and unforgettable characters. It’s great fun. Turn the first page and you’ll forget where you are.” —Jack Skillingstead, author of the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated LIFE ON THE PRESERVATION
“This fast-paced read is a private detective noir set in a space opera….It’s a fun ride. I read half the book in one sitting. To me, this is what space opera should be—intelligent action at thriller-like speed.” —Beth Cato, author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER
“Blending elements of noir crime and science fiction isn’t a new thing, but Patrick Swenson tackles the mashup with enormous talent and verve….[It’s] informed by a Chandlerersque sensibility, with its short, crisp sentences and snappy one-liners. It’s truly a terrific read. In short, to paraphrase and modify Woody Allen’s definition of sex and apply it to the novel: ‘It’s the most fun you can have while still smiling.'” —John Dodds, ADVENTURES IN SCI-FI PUBLISHING
“A sprightly SF thriller….fans of future noir should enjoy the ride.” —THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
“Action, mystery, and furry aliens … what more could I ask for in a book? Swenson’s tone and pacing are perfect—I swear I could hear Harrison Ford’s BLADE RUNNER voice narrating as I read—and more than one twist caught me completely by surprise … I burned through THE ULTRA THIN MAN at light speed and can’t wait for the next installment. This SF noir thriller is storytelling at its best.” —Kristene Perron, co-author of WARP WORLD
“THE ULTRA THIN MAN is set in the 22nd century, where two detectives attempt to solve a case. While that sounds routine, consider that this case begins with a faraway moon being thrown into its home planet and leads the pair of detectives to widespread conspiracy and danger.” —KIRKUS
"This splendidly lively SF debut alternates between the narrations of Alan Brindos and Dave Crowell, two irreverent gumshoes who work for the Network Intelligence Organization of the eight-world Union in the year 2113. Swenson provides Shakespearean riffs on identity as Brindos is transformed and becomes a target for the NIO...Pig Latin, an exotic drug, a comic strip, and a retractable penis add colorful detail to a showdown that puts love and sacrifice at the heart of the self."
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
"The thriller pacing carries the story along until the structure of the conspiracy becomes clear. By the epic finale, the universe is fleshed out enough to make the ultimate question—Who is behind this chain of events?—one worth answering. All in all, an entertaining piece of storytelling."
"Patrick Swenson's first novel, THE ULTRA THIN MAN, hurtles us into an interplanetary mystery like a latter-day Dashiell Hammett channeling Philip K. Dick at his most inventively paranoid and savvy. Much of the action will raise the hair on your nape, as will the alien humanoids known as Helks, as its cleverly twinned narrative rushes from scene to scene with thrilling pizzazz. A far more than promising debut."
—Michael Bishop, Nebula Award-winning author of ANCIENT OF DAYS and BRITTLE INNINGS
"THE ULTRA THIN MAN races like a bullet train from one adrenalin-arousing development to the next. It has everything—aliens, murders, interstellar conflicts, conspiracies—and none of them are what they first seem. Exciting, inventive, and explosive."
—Nancy Kress, author of FLASH POINT
" I was reminded of Iain Banks, which is not a bad thing at all, but this debut novel carves out turf of its own as well. A decently told mystery and a lot of fun getting to the solution."
—Don D'Ammassa, CRITICAL MASS
"An entertaining and worthwhile read...he uses the tropes well and creates a compelling story with an interesting setting. The novel is self-contained but leaves plenty of room for more stories in the same setting."
"Swenson keeps the pages turning in this noirish novel involving multiple planets and a 22nd century that still values private detectives who can take a licking and keep on ticking."
—SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
"Interstellar conspiracy, enigmatic aliens, bizarre drugs, body-morphing technology, “Thin Men,” and the fate of the Union … just a few of the elements that make THE ULTRA THIN MAN awesomeyay. I just love this stuff."
—Patrick Heffernan, MYSTERIOUS GALAXY
"Very clever and intriguing take on science fiction noir. Loved the Helks and especially the Crowell character. Excellent job by the author bringing his 'verse to life."