Picks and Pans Review: Anonymous Rex
Beach book of the week
Leapin' lizards! Turns out dinosaurs aren't extinct after all but are roaming the earth disguised as humans. Private eye Vincent Rubio is a Velociraptor under his latex exterior, and as he makes his way from Los Angeles to New York City on a seemingly routine arson investigation, he becomes entangled in a world of murder, conspiracy and surprisingly saucy interspecies sex. Ridiculous premise? Absolutely. But first-time novelist Eric Garcia pulls it off, keeping the laughs frequent and the plot intriguing. After a few chapters, it seems downright logical to believe we're surrounded by a cast out of Jurassic Park. Huge football players? Actually, they're undersize brontosaurs in pads and helmets. Used-car salesmen? They're just a bunch of vile ankylosaurs, traveling incognito. Rubio's condescension toward humans evinces similar whimsy: "Little Neanderthals," he complains. "If another one rubs up against me, I think I may become ill."
Apart from showing off a splendidly warped imagination, Garcia provides a solid mystery. In true noir fashion, our hard-boiled hero falls for a femme fatale, suffers an addiction (to basil sprigs) and loses his temper (with humans and reptiles alike)—all the while cracking a case that whips around like a stegosaur's tail. (Villard, $23)
Bottom Line: Dino-mite detective yarn