Oct 29, 2018

 

Book Review - Brisk Money, Ray Electromatic Mysteries #0.5 (by Adam Christopher)

Title: Brisk Money
Series: Ray Electromatic Mysteries (book #0.5)
Author: Adam Christopher
Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Noir, Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: July 23rd, 2014
Format: ebook
Pages: 32


"Raymond Chandler famously hated science fiction, saying "They pay brisk money for this crap?" However, it has recently come to light that Chandler secretly wrote a series of stories and novels starring a robot detective. He then burnt all the manuscripts and went on writing his noir masterpieces. Unknown to Chandler, his housekeeper had managed to save some of these discarded manuscripts from the grate in his study, preserving the tales for future generations.

The first of these stories was recently unearthed by author Adam Christopher. On the topic of how the manuscript made its way from Chandler's study in California to Christopher's home in England, Christopher is suspiciously quiet."

(click to read the full novelette on Tor.com)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
They had me at robot detective in the 1960's Hollywood. It's also a prequel to the Ray Electromatic Mysteries trilogy.

The Plot
Raymond Electromatic is a licensed private detective in 1960's Hollywood. He's also the last robot in existence. At six feet six inches tall, his memory capacity is limited to 24 hours only though, by which time he needs to upload all his memories from that day's work to bulky external tape reels and wipe clean his own small internal memory tape. Ada is a stationary complex AI, the size of an office. In the guise of Raymond's secretary she's in fact his handler. Ada manages all the cases and fills Raymond in on all the details he needs to do his job.

Everyday at oh-six-hundred hours Raymond wakes up renewed, with no memories of the previous day, and at precisely midnight he shuts down to recharge and backup the daily events. An unexpected power outage causes Raymond to wake up earlier than usual, with a memory fragment that survived the previous wipe and a mysterious package with five thousand dollars and a handgun inside his trench coat. Ada isn't talking so it's up to Raymond to investigate himself.

The Good
"Brisk Money" is a well structured novelette mashup of pulp fiction and classic science fiction. Despite its short length the author balances both genres successfully, with enough mystery and character development to keep us engaged throughout the whole plot.

As a prequel to the Ray Electromatic Mysteries trilogy, the novelette introduces the two main characters, Ray and Ada, and sets up the background for the novels with a final twist that is the basis for the trilogy. Ray is a robot private eye with a Bronx accent and a 24-hours only memory cycle. He's not out to destroy humanity, isn't anguished by existential doubts nor bound by Azimov's 3 laws of robotics. He just wants to do the job he was programmed for, and has enough human mannerisms inherited from his creator's mind template to act like a human, even if he doesn't have the physical ability to express them. Ada is the mastermind AI that manages the office and Raymond's daily routines. Through Raymond's eyes, or personal impressions while interacting with the AI (since she doesn't have a real physical presence), Ada comes across as the typical chain-smoking cheerful and sharp tongued secretary, programmed to make a profit out of the agency.

"Brisk Money" is told in the first person, from the perspective of the main character Raymond while on the case, trying to solve the mystery surrounding himself, Ada and the detective agency he works in. Both characters are fully fleshed out and Raymond's internal monologues, observations and interactions with Ada set up the right tone of a noir detective story, even if you're not familiar with the genre.

Final Rating
"Brisk Money" is a short and well structured novelette with well developed characters, set in atmospheric Hollywood of the 1960's. Recommended for those who enjoy hard-boiled genre and classic robot stories.


• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: www.adamchristopher.co.uk
Twitter: @ghostfinder
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

Adam Christopher is a novelist and comic writer, and award-winning editor.

Christopher’s debut novel EMPIRE STATE was SciFiNow’s Book of the Year and a Financial Times Book of the Year. The author of MADE TO KILL, STANDARD HOLLYWOOD DEPRAVITY, and KILLING IS MY BUSINESS, Adam’s other novels include SEVEN WONDERS, THE AGE ATOMIC, and THE BURNING DARK.

Adam has also written the official tie-in novels for the hit CBS television show ELEMENTARY, and the award-winning DISHONORED video game franchise, and with Chuck Wendig, wrote THE SHIELD for Dark Circle/Archie Comics. Adam is also a contributor to the STAR WARS: FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW 40th anniversary anthology.

Born in New Zealand, Adam has lived in Great Britain since 2006.
(source: goodreads.com)

Next in the series: Made to Kill, Ray Electromatic Mysteries #1 (book review)


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