Ace Re-Release, Dec
Reviewed by Joy
The secret is
revealed. Dinosaurs never died out at all, they simply disguised
themselves to look like humans. Now, in the year 2000, five percent of
the US population are dinos in near-perfect guises, combining normal
dinosaur concerns with those of living in modern human civilization.
Vincent Rubio is
one of those disguised dinos, except he isnít handling modern
civilization too well these days. Once a respected P.I. with a share in
a busy detective firm, the Velociraptor representative on the Los
Angeles dino council, Vincent is now a basil-drenched outcast, taking
lowest-of-the-low jobs when he can get them. Thatís right, dinos drown
their sorrows in basil. Vincentís sorrows began when his partner in the
detective firm, Ernie, was killed by a taxi in New York City, and no one
would believe Vincentís violently expressed suspicions.
Vincent is just
recovering from his latest ill-fated binge when he gets a break:
Teitelbaum, a tyrannosaurus rex who runs a prestigious detective firm,
wants Vincent to look into a questionable fire. Is it arson, or not? The
night club manager was fatally burned because he refused to leave one of
his storage rooms. Very strange. Even stranger, the call to 9-1-1 came
before the fire had grown big enough to be noticeable. Then -- balm to
Vincentís soul Ė a clue leads to New York. Vincent has a realistic,
legitimate, all-expenses-paid reason to go back to New York and
investigate his partnerís death again. As long as the boss doesnít
notice what he is doing.
himself questioning the same people Ernie was when he died. Judith
McBride, widow of the man whose death Ernie was investigating, appears
to have been the mistress of Donovan Burke, the night club owner who
behaved so strangely in the fire. Burke was once engaged to Jaycee
Holden, of the New York dino council, now mysteriously disappeared. Also
stepping outside of matrimonial bounds was Judithís deceased husband
Raymond, who had been having an affair with a gorgeous human named
Sarah. Within this tangled web of illicit relationships Vincent expects
to find a murder conspiracy. Instead, he finds the irresistible Sarah,
and his world turns upside down.
So why couldnít
author Eric Garcia do all this without making his characters dinosaurs?
Because the emotions and motivations, once they take over, are all
perfectly dinosaurian. (Paleontologists who use the term ďsaurianĒ have
been hopelessly misled by dino scientists, who have fooled the world
with so many kinds of protective fakery.) At first, ANONYMOUS REX is a
take-off on Philip Marlowe. Marlowe fans will get laughs aplenty as
Vincent gumshoes around in a drunken haze, dodges bill collectors and
repo men, and ignores the smell of his office trash. To me (not a
Marlowe fan), all the people in the first part of the story seem stock
characters, written by Raymond Chandler, wrapped in dinosaur skins and
wrapped again in human disguises. Where it becomes not only funny but
involving to me is when Vincent begins meeting the New York characters.
They do such human things in such dinosaurian ways. At a dino council
meeting, for example, it is perfectly to be expected that blood will
flow by the quart. When Vincent is attacked in an alleyway, the fight
that follows could almost be called blissful, in a ferocious way. When
dinos switch love and sex partners they do it with the same longings and
heartburning most humans would, but with special criteria of their own.
They touched my inner atavism.
ANONYMOUS REX isnít
just a wacky what-if, or an off-the-wall satire. Twists and turns,
expert red herrings, logical motivations: as long as you accept Garciaís
initial premise, it makes complete sense. ANONYMOUS REX is a mystery
that will fool you even though it plays fair, because the odds that your
imagination is the equal of Garciaís are thousands to one.
This is not for kids, because of the sexy scenes, bloodletting, and
January 2005 Review
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