Quite different from the other Ambergrisian novel I read (Shriek: An Afterword) in that this is some kind of fusion of dark urban fantasy with hard boiled detective genres although the underlying themes examined are the same. Consequently, while the story stands on its own, much will be lost on the reader unfamiliar with the either of the previous two books written in strange city.
Detective Finch, whilst investigating a peculiar murder, unwittingly finds himself at the focal point of a much larger mystery and is torn between a variety of political and criminal forces whose interests all seem to intersect around his case. The fragile, precarious stability of Ambergris is rapidly upset and poised to take a radical new direction in which Finch's involvement is somehow pivotal.
There is something about Vandermeer's fungal vision of Ambergris that makes the skin crawl, a city awash with multi infectious moulds and penetrating spores that might transform you in unexpected and horrific ways. The Grey Caps themselves, the mysterious beings who have come to govern the city of Ambergris, paint quite a horrifying vision with mysterious motives, sharp pointed teeth teeth and exceedingly difficult to kill no matter if they're plied with bullets or diced with a knife.
Although I enjoyed this book, I can't help finding infuriating the kind of hapless hero that Finch represents, who seems to stumble from one scene to the next with only ever the barest grasp of what is happening. Still, well worth reading and I would definitely read more of Vandermeer's work.