Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 25/07/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 290pp
Summed up in a word: Robotics
I was holding my breath waiting for this to arrive at my door! I have needed something like this for a while. Quirky, intriguing and a little bit far-fetched. Robot Noir set in 1960s America had me fascinated. I missed out on the first instalment of this trilogy Made To Kill (which I will be picking up as soon as I can) but I am already excited for the next book. This is not for everyone, it is a classic crime story with a robotic twist. I did feel that this wouldn’t agree with some readers because of tricky dynamics and quirky elements that not everyone would appreciate, but I will get into that more in the full review below. Highly recommended to readers who like something different.
Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape for intrepid Pl-turned-hitman — and last robot left in working order — Raymond Electromatic. When his comrade-in-electronic-arms, Ada, assigns a new morning roster of clientele, Ray heads out into the LA sun, only to find that his skills might be a bit rustier than he expected…
Killing Is My Business is robot P.I/recently re-programmed hitbot, Raymond Electromatic’s second outing. I missed out on the first instalment of the trilogy, Made To Kill, so I read this as a stand alone. I really enjoyed this novel for many reasons but two stuck out in the crowd. The first was Christopher’s cool, charming and quirky writing style, he is obviously having a lot of fun with this series and it shows. Secondly I thought that the robot element of this Crime/Noir novel was impressively fleshed out. AC did a great job of keeping the reader’s focus on the fact that we are reading from a robot’s perspective. This made Raymond’s presence in the story meaningful instead of just an eccentricity.
Raymond is the last remaining robot from a government project that was shut-down almost immediately after production began. Ray was programmed to be a private investigator but was recently reconfigured to take on assassination contracts. This story begins with Ray stalking a fresh target courtesy of his computer boss Ada at the Electromatic Detective Agency. Before Ray can get to him, the target takes a dive out of his office window and dies on impact. Not common but it does happen. Next on his list is a real estate developer who hasn’t been seen on weeks. Another dead end…
Finally Ray gets a contract that will keep him busy. Saving a Mafia boss from a shootout, then becoming his body guard so he can kill him when the client is ready. When Ray saves the life of Zeus Falzarano (great name I know), he is sucked into a plot that will take him right back to the roots of his creation. It is a great plot, fundamentally simple but suits a robotic protagonist well. Ray is an accomplished detective, despite his technological misgivings, and is focused on breaking the case wide open. I thought the pacing was spot-on and the development of Ray’s case to be engaging and filled with mystery.
My main problem with the novel was the fact that there is not many characters to invest in, mainly just Ray, as all the secondary characters are hit and miss. With the exception of Ada. I like her as a presence, especially in terms of her dynamic with Ray. It was this duo that kept me reading and I thought their pairing was fascinating. This is where AC’s writing shines and it is brilliant. My favourite element has to be the echos and ghosts in their programming that gives the reader the sense that they are real people instead of just machines.
I thought Ray was the perfect protagonist for this story, though it is made clear from the beginning that he is an unreliable narrator due to memory limitations (24 memory tapes). This makes Ray’s own narration of events slightly jumbled up and adds an element of mystery to the story. Ray is interesting lead character with his robotic abilities, enjoyment of human practices such as reading books or eating/drinking (which he can’t actually do) and capabilities as an assassin. I would recommend this novel to those readers who enjoy crime/noir with a twist. In my opinion it is a sucess and I can’t wait for book three!
About Adam Christopher
Adam 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 Dishonoredvideo 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. Bio taken from Adam’s personal website: www.adamchristopher.co.uk/about/ (Photo by: Lou Abercrombie)