From Publishers Weekly
A master of dark visions, Jeter (Blade Runner: Replicant Night) delivers his most difficult and intellectually ambitious novel to date. In a near-future world where the poor are entirely disenfranchised and white-collar employees live and work themselves to death in tiny, randomly assigned cubicles, the super-wealthy seek vicarious, perverse, cybernetically enhanced thrills on the streets of Los Angeles. Repulsed by the era he's forced to live in, McNihil, a retired cop with a violent past, has had his eyes surgically altered so that he sees everything through a computer-generated overlay that simulates the black-and-white world of the hard-boiled detective films of the 1930s. When Harrisch, an executive with a powerful multinational corporation, tries to hire him to solve a murder and track down the deceased's missing "prowler," a computerized simulation of the dead man, McNihil refuses, only to find himself blackmailed into compliance. Aided by a gutsy young operative named November, McNihil uncovers a complex web of lies and violence, a world where nothing is what it seems and even the dead have power. Jeter is a fine prose stylist, but some will find his knotted, intensely metaphoric language slow going. Equally problematic is his tendency to assume in his reader a sophisticated knowledge of the conventions of both the noir thrillers of the 1930s and contemporary cyberpunk SF. Frequently, his characters seem to operate in an evocative semi-vacuum, the facts needed to explain the plot having been mysteriously elided from the narrative. This is a difficult, eccentric and rewarding novel, an SF equivalent, perhaps, of The Name of the Rose.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Noir is a science fiction novel by K. W. Jeter, published in 1998. It uses the conventions of film noir – the alienated, doomed hero, the cynical private detective, the femme fatale, universal corruption and moral breakdown – to portray a dystopian vision of capitalism run riot.
Even the monochrome visual style of film noir is a factor in Noir, as the hero has had his eyes specially treated to show the world as a black and white movie, altering his perception of people and objects around him so they fit into the aesthetic. The hero is a detective named McNihil who is hired by corporate executives ostensibly to investigate the death of one of their colleagues.
The book is set in the Pacific Fringe – the only remaining industrialized part of the world – in a society where free market capitalism holds absolute sway. Even the dead, including the hero's wife, can be brought back to life as slave labor if they fail to meet their financial obligations. The internet has evolved radically so that emails can be seen fluttering around the recipient and pestering for attention, while strange online sexual experiences can be had through electronic surrogates called prowlers.