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
Noir + robots.
It sounds awesome. It is awesome.
Ray Electromatic is a really fun concept of a character. He feels like a classic hard-boiled detective that just happens to weigh a ton and has to be careful about sitting on bar stools so he doesn’t crush them. Ray’s accompanied by his handler Ada, another robot whose sense for profit would make a Ferengi blush. They make a good team and it’s nice seeing her being the brains of the operation, as opposed to just being a secretary or receptionist. I will also say that I loved the backstory of how they came to be the only robots left around. It’s an explanation that makes absolute sense and plays on our fears of automation technologies quite well.
The story itself is a fun mix of Hollywood (done justice here), Russians and secret plots that probably would have held appeal to the Soviets if only the technologies had ever come into existence. One of the things I especially enjoyed is how radiation played a large part of the story, but its detection made perfect sense – a good use of the robotic nature of our protagonist that shows some forethought on the part of the author: he’s not just a robot to be a robot, the story works <i>because</i> he’s a robot.
Finally, because I usually gripe about brevity in genre, I want to hold this up as an example of brevity done right: world building is complete, Ada and Ray feel fleshed out given the constraints of their nature, and the plotting is tight and moves along at a good clip while feeling fleshed out. It’s just the right length.
This is a well-crafted fun read. If the premise calls to you, pick it up. You will have a good time.
Verdict: Buy It.