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Meter Made.

Meter Made

M.D. Benoit

Zumaya Publications

3209 IH 35 #1086 Austin, TX 78741

1554103029 $14.99, 249 pp.

is one of those books that defies conventions at every turn while making you sit back and watch the story unfold with a big fat smile on your face. Is Meter Made a hard-boiled mystery, with a bucket of clues, danger at every turn and plenty of action? Or is it sci fi, with all of that genre's specific traditions and variations? Meter Made is both, and the fun is in watching talented author M.D. Benoit mix the two genres up and make them stand on their heads.

In Meter Made, private eye Jack Meter is dealing with the loss of the one thing that previously defined his life, his beloved Annie. Jack desperately misses Annie, but it's not so much obsessive love for her that drives him in Meter Made, as the need to use the memory of her to escape the possibility of a new love. As the story begins, Jack is hired by eccentric tycoon, Lambert Garner, whose apartment building has just gone missing. Jack soon discovers that someone is stealing pieces of the universe and also erasing the record of their existence--tough luck for the poor suckers who happened to be living there.

Fortunately, Jack's got a bit of alien technology, a telecarb, implanted in his arm which allows him to go anywhere in the universe just by imagining himself there. The device was created by the Thrittene, a semi-benevolent group of aliens. While the Thrittene mean Jack well, they are always causing him problems. For one thing, their telecarb never seems to work when it is most needed--a great plot device that keeps it from becoming an annoying deus ex machina. Worse, it seems to be slowly turning Jack into a Thrittene--a fate he'd rather avoid.

Everything goes hourglass shaped when the story's femme fatale, Neola Durwin, enters the picture. Neola is a hot woman who is somewhat rude and Benoit does a good job of keeping you guessing about her role in the story. Is Neola destined to become Jack's new love interest-cum-partner? Or is something more sinister afoot?

As a mystery, Meter Made accomplishes what few mysteries do. The jigsaw puzzle pieces fit smartly together and every event is precisely positioned to build upon previous events and lead smoothly to the climax. Although MD Benoit draws upon speculative quantum physics in the book, this isn't a book in which you're going to learn a lot of science. And it also isn't a book for those who like things writ large across the sky--Benoit has the satirist's gift for telling a violent story without a lot of blood and screaming. But if you like your sci-fi a trifle ironic this book knocks it out of the park and into low-earth orbit.
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Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Swanson, Cheryl
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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