On the streets of a not-too-distant future Los Angeles, a mystery begins to unfold. A nightclub burns to the ground and the manager, trapped in his office during the conflagration, clings to life by the slimmest of threads. An out-of-work gumshoe, shopworn and down to his last few dollars, is hired by the nightclub owners to investigate the situation. Quickly he finds himself in over his head. A slight variation of a story you've read a hundred times before, right? Wrong, bucko, because this time the private investigator is a dinosaur, a velociraptor to be exact. It seems that dinosaurs did not become extinct, as science would have you believe. Any good evolutionist will tell you that a species, in order to remain viable, will adapt to its changing circumstances. Over millions of years, the dinosaurs became ever smaller with each succeeding generation; today they are of a size similar to human beings. As protective coloration, they have donned fleshlike costumes, and have been merrily posing as humans for centuries. John Fogerty, the lead singer of Creedence Clearwater, is one, as are Paul Simon, Newt Gingrich and countless others. Some studies indicate that dinosaurs account for as much as 20 percent of the population. And they have successfully hidden their continued existence from the humans. Our hapless detective, one Vincent Rubio, follows his nose (everyone knows that dinosaurs possess legendary olfactory capabilities, right?) from the Big Orange to the Big Apple in search of clues. Never suspecting that he might be the potential object of foul play, he is totally oblivious to the two gangsters tailing him in a black Lincoln limousine. (Need I point out that a dinosaur should have some experience with tails?) In no particular order, Vincent is roughed up, fired, framed, and placed in rather immediate danger of a steamy sexual liaison with (horrors!) a human female. A rather attractive human female, at that. This is perhaps the biggest no-no in the annals of reptilia, an atrocity that is judged swiftly and harshly when uncovered. Reminiscent at times of Jonathan Lethem's Gun with Occasional Music (in which the private eye is a wisecracking kangaroo), Anonymous Rex, Eric Garcia's first novel, is stylish, witty, and fast-paced. Protagonist Vincent Rubio is an engaging amalgam of sensitive new-age guy-osaur and, well, lounge lizard. And, of course, any detective hatched from an egg just has to bring new meaning to the term hard-boiled.

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