Review By Don Sloan
Casavel is an old-school private investigator — right down to the implanted portable data processor on his wrist. It doesn’t get Wi-Fi, though. He needs to insert a cable into the side of his head for that.
Such is the outre nature of this standout cyberpunk/science fiction novel by author Guilherme Solari. Set sometime in the not-too-distant future, Cascavel is called to assist the regular cops — employed not by the city of Megasampa, but by ProcTec, Inc. — in solving a grisly double homicide in a seedy walk-up hotel. The bodies have been butchered and disemboweled.
The much-younger sergeant assigned to the case suspects drugs — dreamtears, specifically.
“Cascavel took a handful of dark blood and put it in his mouth, gargled it and spit it back. ‘No, they were clean, at least physically.’ Cascavel said, his teeth dirtied by the blood. ‘The girl was alive when the innards were taken.'”
This is a tremendously imaginative, futuristic take on an old genre — the hard-boiled P.I. character, called in to cases the regular police can’t — or won’t — solve. Cascavel has a thousand one-liners to annoy the straight-man sergeant. Among them: “I’m wearing underwear that’s older than you.”
The criminal investigation often takes a back seat to the incredible otherworldly background and the more-than-quirky supporting characters.
Cascavel’s son gives him a robotic sheep as a birthday present. Cascavel quickly uploads a guard dog program into its central processor and arms it with titanium teeth, renaming the ruminant Jaws. Cascavel’s brother, seeking increased wealth, has leased the use of his brain to a conglomerate. The process has rendered him a drooling, unresponsive mess. A public relations android at the pharmaceutical company where the victims were employed has non-stop commercials running all over his naked body.
And then there’s the suspected perpetrator of these hideous crimes — a demon the size of an infant. Its name is Bebe Diabo — Devil Baby.
Cascavel and his partner penetrate the drug company headquarters and, after fighting hand-to-hand all the way to the inner sanctum, they receive a terrible shock. And the reasons for the crime wave become terribly clear.
Immaculate Conception is a worthy story that any fan of this genre will enjoy. I’m awarding it four stars only because I believe it could benefit a great deal from an English-as-a-primary-language editor. Much must be overlooked in reading this otherwise fine novel.
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