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Hot and Sweaty Rex: A Dinosaur Mafia Mystery    by Eric Garcia Amazon.com order for
Hot and Sweaty Rex
by Eric Garcia
Order:  USA  Can
Villard, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

Vincent Rubio returns for his third adventure. Rubio is a private eye of the hard-boiled variety. He's tough, resourceful, and he knows how to talk his way out of a jam. The only difference between him and, say, Thomas Magnum or Jim Rockford is that Vincent Rubio is a dinosaur.

No, this isn't one of those fantasy series where dinosaurs evolved instead of people. In Garcia's world, dinosaurs and people co-exist, only people don't know it. They don't know dinosaurs aren't extinct. They don't know that walking among them are dinos of various species wearing latex human costumes (Garcia calls them guises), an entire subculture of 'terrible lizards' with their own laws, government, religions, and support groups. Vincent, as a matter of fact, is a member of Herbaholics Anonymous (dinosaurs get addicted to plants, not human drugs).

Anyway, this time out, our friend Vincent finds himself working for a notorious organized-crime syndicate, and then he runs into an old friend, who happens to be running a competing syndicate, and plenty of mayhem ensues. Garcia's a fine writer he also wrote the wonderful Matchstick Men and the Rubio mysteries are sharp, suspenseful, and very well constructed.

But, of course, they're also comedies not gut-busters like, say, Dave Barry's two novels, but subtle, entertaining yarns that sort of sneak up on you, until you find yourself laughing pretty much all the way to the end.

Garcia's dinosaur subculture is extremely well imagined: detailed, consistent, and, above all, completely plausible. All you need to do is accept one simple premise dinosaurs still exist, hidden from humans and everything else makes perfect sense.

If you haven't yet met Vincent Rubio, I suggest you drop everything and remedy that. The first two books in the series are Anonymous Rex and Casual Rex. Read them all.

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