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Casual Rex

Author: Eric Garcia
Genre: Mystery
Reviewed by Susan DiPlacido

578Eric Garcia's first novel, Anonymous Rex introduced us to hard- boiled LA PI Vincent Rubio. In it, he proved he can weave a page- turning mystery and fill it with laughs. The absurd twist of the novel was that Vincent is a typical PI, except that he's also a velociraptor – you know, those fast, flesh-hungry dinosaurs that were so daunting in Jurassic Park. However, Vincent is evolved. As it gets explained, his kind isn't extinct. Instead, they live amongst us as humans, their reptilian skin and tails hidden under intricate masks and body suits.

With this premise, Garcia was able to delve into humans even more, especially when he aligns the dino thinking with ours, such as when Vincent, a fast-thinking velociraptor, describes other, less- fortunate species. "Ankylosaurs have difficulty expressing emotion visually. Think Al Gore." Vincent deadpans.

The Rex series has become a bit of a cult hit, because the bizarre dino-twist isn't up everyone's alley. In Anonymous Rex Garcia does a good job laying the ground rules while keeping the plot moving, but in his follow up, Casual Rex, the series really takes off because he's freed to keep explanation of Vincent's situation to a minimum and mine the material for all it's worth.

Casual Rex is a prequel to Anonymous, and it kicks off with Vincent's partner's ex-wife (sure they're dinosaurs, but they have all the baggage we do) seeking help from the PIs to find her missing younger brother Rupert. Vincent and partner Ernie quickly get sucked into a dino cult, called the Progressives, who seem mainly concerned with shucking their disguises and getting back to their roots. While Ernie pines for his ex-wife as they infiltrate the camp, Vincent quickly falls under the spell of cult leader, the gorgeous and powerful Circe.

What ensues is a tight mystery that flows as quickly as Garcia's sly, dry wit. For anyone willing to take the plunge into this quirky world, the rewards are great. If you're curious about dipping into this primordial pool, the timing is perfect, as Garcia's third installment of the Rex series, Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery has just been released.


July 11, 2004 in Mystery | Permalink


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