Review - Made to Kill, Adam Christopher
MADE TO KILL is a noir crime novel with all the required elements. Ray is a wisecracking, slightly bitter and twisted investigator, who takes the punches and wears out the shoe leather. Ada, his female sidekick, is the brains behind the operation, with a full-time job keeping Ray on track and out of trouble. And of course there's a glamorous client who walks into their Los Angeles office one morning, large bag of gold in hand, promptly turning everything upside down.
Author Adam Christopher's open about the idea behind this tale - "What if Raymond Chandler wrote sci-fi?". Probably not a question that would wander into many people's heads, but Christopher takes it and comes up with his version of a private eye, and then twists that even further.
The difference being Ray is a robot and Ada is a computer. Luckily the client is still a gorgeous girl with something to hide, but what's she's hiding has a very nice twist on the expected as you'd hope from something as gloriously odd as MADE TO KILL. Classic noir with a mash-up that's slightly science fiction and slightly comedic relief creating something surprisingly believable. After a while Ray's being a robot is only foremost in your mind because he does keep reminding you.
There is a lot more to Ray and Ada than meets the eye however. Aside from Ray being the last robot on earth with the controlling supercomputer is in his ear all the time, there's the question of daily wipes of his memory tapes and the lucrative sideline of eliminations rather than investigations. Needless to say Ray's a bit hazy on what's really going on, as Ada ensures he's under control and focused in the directions she wants.
Not being a particular fan of this type of genre blurring I fully admit to being a bit leery of MADE TO KILL. Fortunately right from the opening pages it grabbed attention, made me laugh a lot and kept me turning pages right until the end. The balance between the whole "last robot" thing and the actual investigating is nicely done, the humour well pitched, frequently self-deprecating and never distracting from the more hard-boiled, noir elements. Somehow Christopher has even managed to inject a little pathos, and some vulnerability into a character who is, after all, a hulking heap of metal in a hat.
MADE TO KILL comes straight from the "well I wasn't expecting that pile", and even better, it looks like the opening salvo in a trilogy that will be well worth following.
It was just another Tuesday morning when she walked into the office--young, as I suspected they all might be, another dark brunette with some assistance and enough eye black to match up to Cleopatra. And who am I? I'm Ray, the world's last robot, famed and feared in equal measure, which suits me just fine--after all, the last place you'd expect to find Hollywood's best hit man is in the plain light of day.
Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, as good as he ever was at being a true Private Investigator, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency--except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray's inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret.
When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing movie star, he's inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she had the cold hard cash, a demand for total anonymity, and tendency to vanish on her own.
Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen--and this robot is at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Made to Kill is the thrilling new speculative noir from novelist and comic writer Adam Christopher.