If the films Metropolis and The Big Sleep had a baby, it would look just like this book’s plot.
Ray Electromatic, the last robot in a world that used to be full of them, was programmed to be a private investigator…but killing pays better. His handler, a computer named Ada, gives him his work orders. She also wipes his memory each night. His most recent job was saving a mafia Don from a restaurant bloodbath a la The Godfather. Once done, he is offered another job by the Don. Ray is then involved in a mysterious scheme involving car chases, fake identities and plenty of murder.
Originally, I thought this was a parody of 1940’s hard-boiled detectives utilizing a kitschy robot. However, it is much more than that. There is real science fiction world building in this novel. It is as if steampunk continued growing until the mid-1960’s. The setting and atmosphere are equally gritty and consistent. The plot has the same exuberance for the future as steampunk stories do. The mystery was good though the resolution was a bit obvious (at least to someone who has read as many mysteries as I have). I loved that, though the main plot line was solved, there was a subplot left to be resolved in the next book in the series. I can’t wait!
I would recommend this book to hard-boiled detective fans but especially to those who enjoy steampunk thrillers like Leviathan and Kraken.
Thanks to the publisher, Tor Books, and netgalley for an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.