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I've never been hardboiled. But I'm trying. I'm trying real hard.—Vincent Rubio
An offbeat detective novel series by Eric Garcia (better known as the author of Matchstick Men.)
Los Angeles Private Investigator Vincent Rubio finds himself investigating what at first appears to be a simple insurance case. He quickly finds himself in the middle of a full-on murder mystery complete with turgid affairs and mistaken identity. He only makes it through by the edge of his large talons.
Did we mention Vincent was a Velociraptor?
Yes, there are dinosaurs living among us, disguised as humans. As silly as the premise is, Garcia treats it about as seriously as he can, and comes up with a pretty interesting back-story and culture for his dinosaurs. And the books are funny as hell.
Other books in the series include Casual Rex and Hot And Sweaty Rex. Not to be confused with Theodore Rex, which is a load of crap. Loosely adapted into a Sci-Fi Channel original movie, which... is about as good as you'd expect.
Part of a sort of string of "fantastic noir" novels by different authors that all seemed to arrive at around the same time, including the books, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
Contains examples of the following tropes:
- Big Eater: Sarah Archer / Jaycee Holden. Vincent is very impressed with her ability to pack away food.
- Talking Dinosaurs Among Us: Apparently five percent of the people you pass by every day are actually dinosaurs.
- Five percent in the continental US. Population density might be different elsewhere.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Harshly averted. In fact, it could be argued that the aversion of this trope is the driving force of the plot.
- Catch Phrase: Vincent hints at a storied past--don't ask, don't ask.
- Church of Happyology: The Progressives.
- Detective Animal: Vincent.
- Does Not Like Guns: All of the dinosaurs, especially Ernie. They consider guns unnatural and prefer to do their fighting hand-to-hand.
- Editorial Synaesthesia: Used to depict the scents of specific dinosaurs during the film by displaying brightly lit images depicting the items that would make the trademark scents.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Well duh. It's a detective novel... with dinosaurs!
- Fantastic Noir
- Fantastic Racism: The reason the dinosaurs don't let humans in on the gig.
- The dinos are just as guilty of racism as humans are. One of the prime standing orders in the community is that any humans who discover The Masquerade are to be killed immediately, regardless of how much of a threat they might be to the community. In fact, Vincent himself almost killed a fellow dinosaur when he mistook him for a human being, not even stopping to consider why a human would be talking so casually about dinos wearing disguises.
- That's not all. Vincent seems not to think highly of Compys (procompsognathus), often describing them as dullards.
- Hardboiled Detective: played with. Vincent declares that he's not one, but is forced to act like one to keep the clients happy.
- Hot Iguanodon On Ornithomimus Action
- Humans Through Alien Eyes
- The Masquerade: The main source of conflict in the series. The dinosaurs have been camouflaging themselves as humans for as long as there have ever been humans. Therefore, the ruse must be kept at all cost; the remains of any deceased dinosaurs must be dissolved completely and any humans who see a dinosaur out of costume must be killed on sight. There are some fringe groups wondering if all this effort is worth it.
- Mysterious Animal Senses: The dinosaurs all have an amplified sense of smell, regardless of species. It helps them pick each other out in a crowd.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Garcia devotes some time to the "Guises" (humans suits, essentially) that the dinosaurs wear, but your guess is as good as ours how they work on less-easily-anthropomorphic species like Triceratops. The film cleans things up a bit by explaining that the "suits" are actually holograms.
- A couple of times Vincent makes reference to the fact that the bones of modern dinosaurs (or at least, their snouts, which Vincent specifically mentions) are soft and rubbery so that the costumes can retain a human shape even if it's got a dinosaur in it. It's not the worst Hand Wave if you're willing to ignore the fact that bones soft enough to actually do that kind of defeat the purpose of having a skeleton at all. Incidentally, the suits make an appearance in the movie too -- and apparently the switch was a recent one, because Vincent's current disguise still looks enough like the old suit that he can use it as a decoy.
- Pun: The titles of all three books. Replace every R with an S and there ya go.
- Saved for the Sequel: In the first book, Vincent's partner has been killed, leaving him a cynic, but how it happened is left unsaid. The second book is a Prequel where at the very end the death happens.
- Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying: Garcia watched "Jurassic Park" a lot. That's all the research he did. It does get a little distracting at times (there are some weird passages in Casual Rex where Vincent feels his ears perk up), but for the most part, just relax.
- Also there are a couple mensions of them being different "breeds" of "the dinosaur species," a mistake that also made an appearance in Jurassic Park. A tyrannosaurus has just as much in common with a human as it does with a stegosaurus. (Okay it does have more in common with the stegosaurus, humans being mammals and all, but still - separate species.)
- Stock Dinosaurs: Make up most of the nonhuman cast.
- Funnily, Vincent actually mentions having watched Jurassic Park (though he doesn't name the film, it's obvious what he's talking about). He says it confirms humankind's greatest fears about dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs' fears of what will happen if humankind ever discovers they're still around. Therefore, his opinion of the film is on the low side.
- They Walk Among Us: Dinos, naturally.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The dinosaurs are Genre Savvy enough for this to be the main reason why they can never "out" themselves.
- Artistic License Biology: Mostly concerning the climax of the first book but let's take it from the top shall we?
- Firstly the author seems to be suggesting that the reason it had to be dinosaur "seed" with a human egg was that the shell was present from the start, when actually it's added by the mother's body later. And on a molecular level an unfertilized dinosaur egg would theoretically be very similar to an unfertilized human egg.
- secondly you never, ever incubate an egg underwater. Eggshell is what's known as a semi-permeable barrier. While a fetus is growing in an egg, air slowly seeps through the shell and forms a pocket for the chick to break into when it's ready to hatch. Incubate underwater and the chick drowns.
- And finally, even if incubating underwater weren't a form of infanticide, there is simply no good reason to use a 100,000 gallon tank to incubate one egg. The heating bill alone be like a thousand dollars