The City Man reviewed by The Dominion
Torontonians will love The City Man, a quick-paced first novel set in the early spring of 1934 Toronto. Anyone who knows Toronto will recognize Union Station, Kensington Market, and a whole list of street names and buildings. For everyone else, the novel has a love story and a happy ending. The book employs what seem like conventional depression-era film noir characters – the crack reporter working the police beat, the hard-done-by, but loveable pick-pocket – yet the end result is stunningly original and engaging. There are a few small falters – one unfortunate “RIIIII-iip” of paper; a predilection for unusual words that occasionally fights against the gritty, no-nonsense, almost telegrammatic style; and an overall sparseness of subplot and of secondary characters suggestive of a short story stretched too thin. The payoff comes in the tautness resonating throughout, and a playfulness with language which seldom fails to delight. Akler’s prose is cinematic, tight-focused, and raw, capturing and presenting visual details in a visceral way that adds up to more than mere description. The City Man is an historically informative and entertaining read.