Made to Kill
Pub: 5 November 2015
It’s 1965. You’re the last robot on earth. Times are hard, so how does an honest robot make a living? Well if you’re Raymond Electromatic, you operate as a private investigator by day, and a hitman by night. This is not quite what his creator Professor Thornton had in mind for him, but his partner, Ada, who exists purely in his computer mind – as a chain smoking organiser – has helped him modify his original purpose to ensure survival. There are some hitches, whilst some minor piece of information are permanently stored in on-board memory, his main memory bank gets automatically wiped every 24 hours. As you can imagine it make long investigations a bit of a challenge.
When a nameless lady appears at his door with a pile of gold bars and request to kill movie star Charles David, Ray spots a business opportunity; only David is missing, so he needs to find him before he can kill him. Thing then get more confused as following a wild goose chase Ray ends up at the newly restored Hollywood sign. Nearby he finds tube with photos and some invoices that mention temple of magenta Dragon. (High roller club only the very rich and famous can get in).
What follows is meant to be a chandler homage with a full metal Marlowe lead. Indeed, Christopher’s afterword explains the novel is both a carefully researched Chandler homage and a dig at Chandler’s ridicule of the science fiction genre. I love Chandler, and I really wanted to love this book, but it all just failed to gel or totally engage me. Christopher has a good ear for dry, dead-pan classic gumshoe noir dialogue but the plot and it execution were as cold as Ray’s body. So we get the cold war, Soviet spies, the CIA, dead actors, not-so-dead actors, and geiger counters in this alternate world of 50s LA, but it is all as fractured as Ray’s memory bank – maybe that’s the point. From a reader engagement point of view however this just fails. Without the snappy dialogue and internal monologues, this book would have been left unfinished.
I suspect this is set to be a series. Let’s hope things improve next time out.
Review Copy Supplied by Tor/NetGalley