A review by whatmeworry
Mechanical Error by Roma Gray, Marisha Cautilli, Joseph Cautilli


This review first appeared on scifiandscary.com. I received a copy of this book for review consideration.
‘Mechanical Error’ plays out like a reasonably well-budgeted mid-90s sci fi movie. It has some pretty fun ideas, a fair bit of action and whizzy tech stuff, but too many of its deeper themes feel reminiscent of other things. If I was to say that it advertises itself as a post-cyberpunk detective story and that it features a string of murders and an intelligent, rogue android and you might be able to guess one of its influences. That said, the book is part of the 'Creature Feature' series from publisher J. Ellington Ashton Press, which pays homage to classic sci fi and horror movies, so maybe a slight lack of originality is forgivable.
Despite that lack of originality it’s an entertaining read. Heroine Charlotte McCain is an agent with a hoverbike and loads of other neato gadgets who is investigating a number of mysterious deaths where the victims have exploded. I’m a huge fan of detective fiction and enjoyed the investigatory detail included in the book. It’s reasonably convincing and gripping and the cop banter between Charlotte and her colleagues was fun.
The plot moves on at a good pace and there are some interesting side characters along the way. The rogue android is fun, although the attempts to make him deep and meaningful don’t always work. Despite that failing, it’s an engaging and mix of fast-paced SF thriller and something a little more thoughtful.
The book advertises itself as having three authors, how the writing was split up between them isn’t clear at all, but there certainly weren’t any noticeable changes in tone or writing style.
The book has a bonus short story, ‘Blank Check’, included at the end which has similar strengths and weaknesses. Again, it’s an entertaining SF tale with some exciting scenes and some clever concepts. Like the main story, it’s possibly not quite as clever as it thinks it is, but that doesn’t really detract from things.
I listened to the Audible version, which was fine for the most part. The narrator did a pretty good job (although he did sound a bit embarrassed at some performance poetry sections) and the audio was okay if a little tinny. It kept me entertained on the walk to and from work a couple of days running and I’d recommend it if the synopsis appeals.