A future undated in a huge megacity of over 50 million souls called Metropolis, where it rains 80% of the time, so basically it is either raining or about to. This cyberpunk dystopian story follows Cruz, a young fellow who has made himself a master of vintage hover-car restoration, and lives in a legacy apartment, one that is his for life without rent, in this city of colossal skyscrapers, hover-cars, bustling skies and gray people walking below on the grimy, flashy streets of this neon jungle where the dark dank days are made brilliant by the plethora of neon signs. As Cruz tells us, “If we ever had an Extinction Level Event, it would be that no toilets would flush, and there’d be no one to pick up the trash.”
Cruz, after seeing an acquaintance of his mysteriously shot to death by cops for seemingly no reason, decides to investigate, and in the process, ends up opening up his own detective agency. Cruz is a dystopian version of Monk, somewhat OCD, and a germophobe, who gets the skeevies when faced with dirt, grime, and general grunge and germs. He has a mania for being cool, dressing not in the dark overcoat and hood and black umbrella like everyone else, but in a light color snazzy coat and a fedora. Hence the name of his agency.
The mystery is interesting, if not engaging, but the fun of this book is not in the detecting, but in the world, and the characters who populate it. They go by names such as Easy Chair Charlie, whose wife is always referred to as Mrs. Easy Chair, Prima Donna, Punch Judy, so named for having bionic arms and having punched someone so severely she ended up in jail for a time, Run-Time, who has a limo, Uber-type service, Bugs, who does security – “listening device detection, motion detection security, intrusion defense security, video surveillance, door and wall defense security, door and lock augmentation, trap door and panic rooms.” There is his girlfriend, China Doll, who is part cyborg owing to an accident that decapitated her, and Phishy, a sidewalk character, man of all acquisitions mostly illegal. He tells us that he tries to scam everybody, even his friends. If he didn’t, that would be like discriminating. Well, yeah. I guess he is right.
It is a world of cyborgs, where people don’t often actually die but have parts replaced, and a criminal cartel called the Animal something or other, and each gang in it had an animal name and wore the appropriate masks. There were the Rabbits, the Hyperpole Hippos, etc.
It is a book that has a cartoon feel and doesn’t take itself all that seriously. Just a giggle to read. My only cavel is the current day slang and expressions which appear from time to time. This author is not the only genre writer guilty of this. For me, it dates the book, so I guess if you are writing something that you feel won’t last the test of any time at all, so what. But really, what are readers to think, 20 years from now as they come across expressions which no longer have any currency? Oh well, not my problem.
There appears to be six volumes in this series, plus a prequel short. I think I am done at this one. Enough coolness for me.