Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.
Touch No One is a book that lulls you into a false sense of security with its familiar detective-noir narration, and then challenges you with the inclusion of cyberpunk sci-fi elements, before completely unsettling you with the ever-darker, and increasingly more complex, plot developments. What Joseph Hirsch has attempted here is rather bold and audacious, but it works surprisingly well.
On that detective-noir, front we have the tired old cliché of a retired police detective turned private investigator, all cranky and suitably jaded, who agrees to take on an attempted murder investigation for the money. On the cyberpunk front, we have a world where body augmentation is standard, artificial intelligence abounds, and neural connections allow brains to serve (essentially) as discreet smartphones. On the plot development front . . . well, that's where things get interesting.
This is a story involving augmented prostitutes, adult nursing, opium-laced lactation, freaky parasitic infections, the worship of ancient gods, conspiracies, and murder. Every time I figured the story had reached the pinnacle of weirdness (the giant crib with the freaky fetish totem breastpump was an early highlight), a new character or a new wrinkle was introduced. Hirsch takes his time with each development, drawing out the story between them, so it's not an assault upon the senses, but rather an infection of its own that keeps worming deeper and deeper into your brain. It is often creepy and gross, making you crave a Touch brand cuddle when you're done, but it (smartly) never crosses the line of eroticism.
If you have an imagination broad enough to encompass the ideas, and don't need to be spoon-fed explanations for everything, Touch No One can be a dangerously addictive read.
Published February 23rd 2017 by Black Rose Writing