If I had to describe Empire State in my own words, I’d be at a complete loss except for the following: read Empire State. At the heart of Adam Christopher’s fine debut novel is a crime noir escapade set during prohibition era Manhattan with superheroes”¦except it’s not. There’s a nod to the excellent Inception and to the even more excellent Dark City, but Mr. Christopher mashed several of these themes and made a new Frankenstein out of it that is much more than the sum of its parts.

Empire State follows the day and life of Rad Bradley, a down on his luck detective hired to find the missing love of a socialite. And that’s as far as reality goes. Between dueling superheroes tearing the fabric of space and time to characters meeting their alternate universe doubles, Mr. Christopher takes the reader on a surreal journey trying to save a pocket universe from destruction. The pocket universe, filled with cyborg robots, airships, and a 1984-ish distant war, is the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream that is equally fantastic as it is terrible.

I had more than a few “Bruce Willis just realized he’s dead” moments and was kept gumshoeing along with Rad along the way as I tried to piece together the puzzle of this Salvatore Dali painting. This is definitely not a beach read you’ll read and forget while sitting at the terminal waiting for your plane to arrive. This is more of a stiff drink read as you mull over the plot and connect the dots to the world he built.

Keep an eye out for Adam Christopher. He’s a talented one, this Mr. Christopher. I’m looking forward to his follow-up novel, SEVEN WONDERS, due out in 2012.