Dark City by Frank Luria

Dark City (Vol 1)
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 978-0312963439

Rating: 6/10

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”no” align=”left” asin=”0312963432″ cloaking=”default” height=”475″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71AGDM76NGL.gif” tag=”buzmag-20″ width=”285″]Novel adaptations of films are hardly literary. Most of them tend to be somewhat silly and contrived and except for a few good books written by talented writers, hardly worth the print they are written on. Despite its intriguing subject matter, Dark City–a novelization of the 90s cult classic of the same name–continues in the same vein, featuring almost scene by scene duplications of the events of the film. The result is an empty shell of a book that fails to engage the reader’s mind, leaving them wanting something more.

Like the movie, the book revolves around a main character, John Murdoch. Waking up in a tub one evening, he spots a dead woman in his bed. Terrified, he flees the hotel where he is staying as he tries to hide out from the police, particularly police inspector Bumstead, who believes him to be the infamous ‘Mad Killer’ who is slaying prostitutes. With the help of a doctor Schreber and Murdoch’s wife, Emma, he slowly comes to realize that the city is held captive by an alien race, called the Strangers, and that only he has the key to the human race’s survival. Racing against time–and his own feeling of inadequacy–Murdoch struggles to expel the Strangers, and return the city to its former glory.


Written by Frank Lauria, who wrote the 1977 book Communion (not to be confused with the Whitney Strieber book of the same name), the novel holds true to his trademark synthesizing of H.P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler (hint: the plot has a lot to do with the stealing of human souls). But whereas Lovecraft and Chandler were able to take their own ideas and environments and ‘make them new’, to quote Ezra Pound, the two-dimensional characters and clichéd noir dialogue of the novel reduce the book to little more than a parroting of the pulpy films of the 1930s and ’40s that screenwriter Alex Proyas faithfully tried to recreate. While this is an adaptation and not a paperback original, the purpose of a novelization is to expound on the characters of the movie, not reproduce the film page by page. In contrast to his original works, including the Doctor Orient series, this feels like sort of a let-down.

At $5.99, “Dark City” the novel is worth donating to Goodwill.

John Winn – Staff Writer

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