Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez

The Automatic DetectiveThe title of this book caught my eye and I just had to check it out. Overall, it has a vaguely comic book feel to the storyline, while attempting to imitate a hard-boiled detective novel. Mack Megaton the robot lives in Empire City, a metropolis which is filled with robots, mutants, and putatively normal humans. He's trying to obtain his citizenship, as he has in the past demonstrated some qualities, such as a sense of ethics, that set him apart from your run of the mill drone.

When a four-armed mutant threatens his next door neighbors, one of whom is a cute little girl with psi powers, April, Mack steps in to thwart him. Unfortunately, when the mutant and/or his allies return and kidnap the entire family, Mack is left with only a cryptic note from April, saying "Find Us". Though he's just a robot cab driver, something moves him to help, and he begins to work, with the help of some old friends, such as detective Sanchez on the police force, and his fellow cab driver the gorilla Jung, and some new friends he makes along the way, like the lovely Lucia - a bit of a mad robotic genius who takes a shine to Mack.

After beating his way through a series of low-level "hoods", Mack finally figures out that there's something toxic at the core of Empire City - more toxic than the waste dumps which make certain neighborhoods much more interesting. The aliens have invaded, adding their own flavor to the Empire stew, and their plans for April's family don't agree with Mack's digestion at all.

This was an amusing book, didn't take itself too seriously. I can't tell if it's a stand-alone, or tied into some of Martinez' other novels, but if I find something else by him, I wouldn't be adverse to picking it up for a try.

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