Now this was a fun read! Part detective story, part LA noir, part alternative history, part fantasy, and all ummmm diesel robot punk. What does she mean by that, I can hear you ask. Let me explain. It is 1947, this is LA after the war. What war you ask. Yeah, me too. I got a little confused with the alternative history, which is why I don’t read very much alternative history. I spend more time saying whaaaaaa? than reading.
Anyway, the city is dark and dirty, and our hero, the mostly out of work P.I. Colt Coltrane, ex cop, and tough as shoe leather, lives in a time of robots and odd machines. He is no longer part of the LA police force because he shot a fellow officer. His partner, actually, when he came upon him and his wife en flagrante delicto. His wife has become a druggie, and he got booted off the force.
The police have robots to help with the policing, and somehow, Colt has managed to acquire one himself, a 6 foot tall clanking red machine that has all kinds of neat superpowers, stealth not being one of them.
A beautiful dame … yeah, in noir detective fiction it is never a woman, it is a dame, and everybody talks like a bad version of Guys and Dolls, comes to Coltrane’s office to hire him to do some investigating of her estranged father, a wealthy man who owns a very successful and progressive robot manufacturing business.
Meanwhile, and there is always a meanwhile, other young women are washing up dead on the shores of the river. I actually did not know LA had a river. Maybe it doesn’t. They are pretty much torn asunder, missing limbs, etc, and with strange circle marks on their skin, kind of like that new craze for heating up suction glasses and putting them on your body to …. well, I don’t know what they are supposed to do, but all the athletes at the recent Olympics were doing it. There are always lotus blossoms floating around, hence the name.
Coltrane has a friend, Clutch, who can make these robots from scratch, and fix anything. He runs a bar, a down and dirty place, but his real deal are the warehouses that hold all kinds of parts and broken down old bots and bot parts.
Coultrane’s client leads him into the sewers of the city, and there is a whole lot of weird stuff going on, and it is just the craziest story. I really enjoyed it and if you read a lot of severely serious detective fiction and are ready for a colorful break, grab a copy of Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer.