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Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story
Eric Garcia
Villard Books, 277 pages

Anonymous Rex
Eric Garcia
Eric Garcia is a 26 year-old writer from Miami. He attended Cornell University and the University of Southern California, where he majored in film and creative writing. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife, Sabrina, and his dachshund, Oliver, and is at work on his second novel, Casual Rex.

Anonymous Rex Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Anonymous Rex

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

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'Tis the season for summer books: mental vacations from more "serious" fiction, a chance to read purely for the rush, without excuses for literary quality, scientific accuracy, or depth of character. If you're looking for such a book, you'll find it in Eric Garcia's first novel, Anonymous Rex: A Detective Story. Vinnie Rubio is your typical noir P.I. -- lonely, broke, depressed, fighting a substance abuse problem -- with one difference: he also happens to be a Velociraptor in disguise.

Blame Michael Crichton or even better, Stephen Spielberg. Rubio is just one of millions of dinos living incognito, offspring of ancestors fortunate enough to have survived the Great Shower and subsequent Age of Man by convenient evolution into more compact shapes with better brains. They hide their reptilian frames within humanoid suits of latex and other polymers, clamping tails and other appendages out of sight between their legs or elsewhere. A Council of dinosaurs, with affiliates in major cities spread throughout the world, adjudicates problems and maintains clean-up crews to hide the evidence and keep humanity from learning the truth. No, it's not very convincing, but then again, the book's under a mainstream imprint, isn't it? Different markets, different demands.

Rubio's dino P.I. partner Ernie was killed nearly a year ago in an apparent freak cab accident while investigating the death of big-shot businessman and T. Rex Raymond McBride, "Carnotaur, connoisseur of human female companionship, and grand exalted mogul of the McBride Corporation -- murdered in his Wall Street office on Christmas Eve." Since then, everything's been downhill for Rubio. He's been hitting the basil too hard (herbs are the drug of choice of dinosaurs; those dinos living in the Med must feel especially blessed), he can't get a decent case, and the bills are piling up.

But then Rubio is called in to investigate a suspicious fire at a dino hangout called the Evolution Club. It was obviously arson, but what was the club's owner trying to hide in his office where he was found later, badly burned. What was so important that he risked his life for it, rather than trying to escape? Rubio's contacts give him enough assistance to set him on track, back to New York City to investigate a probable connection between the fire and Raymond McBride's murder -- and the death of Rubio's partner as well, of course.

Trails twist and finally knot around suspicious dinosaur Dr. Emil Vallardo, a Nobel-track geneticist rumoured to be working in secret on a way for dinosaurs of different species to produce hybrid offspring. Vallardo is also known as "the Spin Doctor, as they call him back in Council meetings because of the rumour that he used centrifuges in his race-mixing experiments" (name me a geneticist who doesn't). The actual truth behind Vallardo's work, however, is even more shocking to our hero.

Since this is a tough guy P.I. novel, there are the required scenes of sex and violence. On the whole, this is a more-than-adequate mystery novel. The only real problem, at least from a speculative fiction perspective, is its total avoidance of any attempts at creditable world-building. The dinos have no religion, no apparent instincts, and no culture all their own. Their attitudes toward philosophy, work, and sex are plain vanilla human. Basically we're talking guys in rubber suits pretending to be dinos pretending to be human. Try to convince yourself of the believability of any of this and your head will explode. On the other hand, if you're a fan of the cynical, hard-boiled school of mystery, this may be just the ticket for a hot summer afternoon.

Copyright © 2000 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.


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