by Eric Garcia
Villard, 352 pp., $23.95
Casual Rex, the charming and absorbing tale of a dinosaur-inhabited, modern-day universe, delivers practically everything a comic/ noir/magical realism/mystery novel could be expected to provide. Los Angeles P.I. and velociraptor Vincent Rubio, who first apppeared in Anonymous Rex, Garcia's first installment in the series, has been around the block, but hasn't completely grown up. In Rubio's universe, dinosaurs didn't die out 65 million years ago. The 16 species of dinosaur that survived the great showers now wear high tech guises which make them look human, their tails and claws securely hidden by a fiendish set of buckles and straps. It isn't easy being green. Thanks to the success of these guises, there are dinos in every walk of life: police officers, dentists, prostitutes, doctors, and delectable drag queens. The ease with which dinos pass among humans disturbs some of their kind. Some of these disturbed dinos are part of the Progressives, a movement where getting in touch with your ancestors means a lot more than looking at genealogical charts. While overall a great read, the first two chapters of Casual Rex are slow-going. Get through these and the rewards are the size of a healthy T-Rex.
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