FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
It’s a shame, really. The world we live in. No, not the world, but the people who live in it. Some of them, you know – let’s be frank – you wouldn’t mind taking out. And by taking out I do mean kill. Perhaps if you had a lot of money you’d hire a professional assassin to take care of the people who cause you grief. That’s, if you were serious enough, what you’d do in this world and in this time. But what if you existed in another time? A time like that which is found in M.T. Bass’s Murder by Munchausen? In this futuristic murder mystery thriller that is the first of an entire series, you’d not hire some assassin to get rid of that foe of yours. No, there is another, much more cleaner way to get the job done.
When hackers are hired to reprogram androids to do a human’s dirty work, they call it “Murder by Munchausen”. Dubbed the Geek Squad by a hairy deputy and famous for bringing in an android called Suzie Sexbot for solicitation, Jake and his partner EC can always be found chasing misbehaving synthetic humanoids to be put into evidence for the forensics team. Originally from the Robbery/Homicide department, Jake still goes there for coffee. It is there that his former partner tells him of a murder and shows him a photo of a mutilated body. Something about the crime scene looks familiar to Jake. He soon finds out that there is a connection between his former partner’s case and that of his own. Even more puzzling, DNA is found in Maddie’s case that matches that found in an unsolved case ages ago.
Mechanical droids and humanoid drones can be found everywhere. The author shows that the people who make them are only getting better at it and they might just create the perfect android someday. Meanwhile, Jake has gotten good at telling the difference between actual humans and androids. He can recognize androids by their movements and the amount of muscles they seem to have in their heads, but he knows that, with the new active plasma biological materials their creators are developing and how the Gen-3 androids mimic diaphragm movements of breathing and their hardware that allows to generate pulses in their necks and wrists, that it’s getting more difficult to tell. Is being replaced by androids that are extremely similar to humans something that the author wishes us to think on? Certainly. That, and how such inventions could affect various aspects of life as we know it.
Jake certainly misses the thrill of going after human perps, but there was so much that made me think that he, along with his partner EC, actually enjoys hunting AnSubs (malfunctioning or hacked android subjects). Heck, in the beginning, he puts on quite a show with an immobile AnSub that he and his partner has caught and it’s all just for show. Viewing a Glock as a soulless firearm that he would most probably use if his life was on the line, Jake is a man of a very specific taste when it comes to his choice of weapon. When it comes to his Freddies (extra thick steaks), one can easily find him trying to get some from Mel the Butcher at his stall in the open market. One thing Jake doesn’t like is strip clubs, but unfortunately, the case he’s working on brings him to one known as the Crystal Palace, owned by a man called Fast Freddie.
The case Jake is working on stems from an AnSub murdering a judge’s son. After getting some leads on the reprogrammer in this particular “Murder by Manchausen” case, Jake and his partner proceed to interrogate “Mrs. Victim”, the judge’s daughter-in-law and a geneticist. Maddie’s case is homicide, but the similarities between her case and that of Jake’s can’t be ignored. As for the reprogrammer, he remains hard to find because one of the things he does is clean up after himself in the digital world. Maddie eventually ends up getting the perp’s attention. Her life, thus, is threatened.
I liked how the author quickly familiarized me with Jake’s world. The pace of the book was fast and there were several interesting characters to meet along the way. The dialogue is mostly funny, keeping the entire atmosphere of the book light. While it happened that a character I grew to like got injured and the ending came to me as a bit of a surprise, I still find myself wanting to return to this futuristic world. The idea of people hacking androids to kill people instead of hiring assassins to do it for them was what hooked me in the beginning, but Jake, being who he is, kept me coming back.
“The mutilation caught my attention, I poured myself a healthy portion of Pinot Noir.” Armed luckily with a strong stomach on my side, the details concerning the first body were a real puke storm to imagine. There are so many humorous bits to this book that coming across something like this while reading doesn’t really nauseate you as much as I suspect it would’ve if the author wrote this tale utilizing a much darker narrative. There are a lot of minor characters being introduced to readers, so it takes some reading to get to the clues concerning Jake and Maddie’s cases.
Through Jake’s first person point of view, the narrative is more dialogue driven and the chapters short. And if the chapter titles don’t get you laughing already, chances are that something will happen along the way that will make you. The sentences can be really geek friendly and geeks, especially the new technology trolls, will love it. Then there are those serious murder mystery hounds. They might not have as much fun as those belonging to geek world, but they’ll enjoy the detective work being done along the way. You’d better take a deep breath before you dive into this one. M.T. Bass offers a real mishmash of genres.
|Publisher: Electron Alley Publications
Date Published: April 2, 2017
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