This 2011 winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award is so many things- noir, urban, fantasy, and science fiction. It’s a wild ride about Zinzi December, a woman with a past and a sloth on her back- literally. In this alternate world those who have committed murder find themselves with an animal familiar. The animal is always nearby, and it’s hard to make it when the world sees your guilt, but Zinzi has a magical skill: finding missing items that can make her very useful at times.
Finding things is her specialty, not people, but hard times and bad luck changed Zinzi’s mind when she’s offered a job with lots of money involved. The job is also dangerous as Zinzi must find a missing teen pop star, especially when the fact the pop star’s disappearance must be kept a secret. Zinzi must weave her way through the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa returning to her old haunts before her own fall and the appearance of the sloth. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes is edgy with a constant feel of danger and yet Zinzi somehow manages to have her own running commentary and observations about life.