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A. Lee Martinez
Orbit, 304 pages

A. Lee Martinez
A. Lee Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas in 1973. In 1991, he graduated from Gadsden High School in New Mexico. He has published a number of fantasy novels plus two additional novels will be published in 2008. His books have been translated into five languages. His first published novel, Gil's All Fright Diner (2005), was awarded a 2006 Alex Award. The Automatic Detective has been optioned by David Fincher and Blur Animation Studios.

A. Lee Martinez Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Automatic Detective

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

Judy never expected to find a yeti in the freezer section of the Food Plus Mart while she was working the night shift, much less a yeti intent on eating all of the ice cream (save the vanilla.)  But there it is, so what does she do?  She calls Animal Control Services, which, surprisingly enough, actually has a remedy for her infestation issues.  Enter Monster, of Monster's Cryptobiological Rescue, a large blue-skinned man with a talent for transmogrifying and containing supernatural pests, and his paper gnome companion Chester.  Several yetis later, the grocery store is pest-free, and that's the last Judy ever sees of Monster....

Until her apartment is invaded by trolls and other weird creatures, and Monster again comes to the rescue.  Though neither her apartment nor Monster's van survive the job, Judy comes away with the valuable knowledge that the supernatural is real, and very annoying.  Thus begins a rather uneasy, unlikely partnership between Judy and Monster, one born out of mutual convenience and mild dislike for one another. Monster shows her the ropes of being a cryptological containment expert, she does her best not to completely screw things up while acting as his transportation.  But as they make their rounds, it becomes clear that the recent upswing in crypto activity may not be entirely random, and neither is Judy's involvement.  Something really weird is going on, and Judy is at the heart of it all.  With the fate of the universe at stake, can Judy and Monster get their acts together long enough to defeat a cranky immortal, defeat a host of hostile cryptos, and make peace with the most powerful artifact in existence? Or will all of humanity end up spending their lives as cats?

A. Lee Martinez continues to be one of those authors who reinvent themselves with every book, never settling for telling the same sort of story twice.  This time around, we're presented with a bizarre urban fantasy that reads like a cross between Neil Gaiman, Tom Holt and Christopher Moore.  Audacious, thoughtful, comedic and oddly human, it's an intriguing tale that never seems to go where you expect.  It bucks convention and defies expectations at every turn, starting with Monster and Judy's contentious relationship and ending with the very universe itself being up for grabs.  In between, there's more mythological monsters than you can shake a stick at, an extradimensional entity inhabiting an origami shell, Monster's succubus girlfriend, and the most dangerous cat lady of all time. Great fun.

It's tempting to write Monster off as a shallow book; it's got that dry sense of situational humor that marks Tom Holt or Christopher Moore, where the characters and their foibles are played straight, and the comedy comes from the problems they must deal with.  Of course, when yeti in the supermarket and trolls in the bedroom and walrus dogs in a diner's kitchen are involved, things are anything but dull.  And once you look closer, it's easy to see that Monster has depths... or layers, like an onion.  It's a fun read, quirky and strange and the perfect addition to Martinez's already varied repertoire.  While it would be nice to see what's next for Monster and Judy, I'll happily take whatever Martinez decides to throw at us.  But if you want comic fantasy, this is definitely a good bet.

Copyright © 2009 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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