The L.A. Trilogy #1: Made to Kill by Adam Christopher (Titan Books)

Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, as good as he ever was at being a true Private Investigator, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency–except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray’s inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret.

When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing movie star, he’s inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she had the cold hard cash, a demand for total anonymity, and tendency to vanish on her own.

Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen–and this robot is at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Made to Kill is the thrilling new speculative noir from novelist and comic writer Adam Christopher.                                                                

“What if Raymond Chandler wrote science-fiction?” That’s the Elevator Pitch for Made to Kill, a sci-fi period noir thriller set in an alternate version of Los Angeles, where Raymond Electromatic is a robot, P.I. who works in the Electrometric Detective Agency. He finds himself handed an assignment to find a missing movie star by a mysterious woman, but money talks and Raymond takes up the case, not expecting to be plunged in a greater conspiracy that goes deeper than just the booming Hollywood Industry at the time.

Adam Christopher is always a really reliable author for me, I’ve never been disappointed by his work once and have read all of his currently released novels. My favourites so far probably have to be either his debut Empire State or the superhero fare Seven Wonders, but Made To Kill offers another consistent, quick and fun read from the author that presents a fascinating blend of two genres, using sci-fi and noir as a backdrop to tell a compelling storyline in the shadows of Hollywood.

Raymond Electromatic is the lead protagonist and through his first person perspective we meet the rest of the world. He’s not your typical protagonist, with a worldview that is different from that of your average human and it’s interesting to see how Christopher uses that to suit the narration. He’s a good, solid character and he needs to be as reader’s enjoyment of novels told through a first person perspective tend to hinge on how well they get on with the character. Raymond is made more interesting by a crucial problem he suffers from, he loses his memory after every 24 hours and has to rely on his assistant, Ada, to fill him in each day on the relevant information. It also helps a lot that Raymond has a sense of humour as well, allowing for some nice gags throughout the novel’s pages.

The setting, in the 1960s, also really pays off in the novel as Hollywood is really fleshed out in Made to Kill, as Raymond gives us a guided tour of the area during his time as we uncover its dark, dirty secrets. It’s interesting for him as there are no other robots like Raymond left, he’s essentially the last of his kind following the failure of a Government-funded program that saw the robots launched with an intention of doing high-risk jobs.

Made To Kill is perfect for those who like the old noir movies (I have recently started watching more in the genre myself, The Maltese Falcon last year followed by Rear Window this year, as well as a few others), or loved reading the likes of Raymond Chandler and other pulp fiction writers. Adam Christopher’s latest novel is a fun, quick read that is really entertaining, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table in the next LA Trilogy novel.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

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