Content aside, there's a superficial resemblance between mystery novels and pornography. Walk into a store specializing in either and you'll find numerous examples of what the television industry calls narrowcasting, with subgenres designed to appeal to almost any interest. Just as, say, Finnish spanking videos have to be out there somewhere, there's a mystery novel designed to appeal to almost any imaginable taste, whether it turns to horse racing, 18th-century dandies, or mystery-solving ferrets. First-time novelist Eric Garcia, however, has nonetheless managed to find a new, unanticipatable niche, creating a mystery novel starring dinosaurs. In the world of Anonymous Rex, the great secret society hidden from the common view through history is not the Masons or the Illuminati, but dinosaurs. Contrary to popular belief, the great lizards did not become extinct, but instead evolved to a more manageable size and disguised themselves as humans, finding employment in every corner of human society, including the field of private investigation. Vincent Rubio, a down-on-his luck velociraptor private eye with a dangerous basil habit, serves as Anonymous Rex's protagonist. After he's tossed a rare bone in the form of an arson investigation, Rubio heads from L.A. to New York and soon finds himself involved in a convoluted case involving adultery, genetic experimentation, and cross-species romance. Though not without humor, the greatest strength of Garcia's novel may be that it's not played for laughs: Anonymous Rex works as a mystery, albeit a fairly conventional one, that just happens to involve dinosaurs masquerading as humans. Garcia treats this conceit in a matter-of-fact manner, and his assured prose—in the form of semi-hardboiled narration by Rubio—never lets the inherent ridiculousness poke through. And ridiculous it is, though still a pleasurable read. Anyone waiting for dino-noir to finally hit bookshelves need wait no longer.
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