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by Jonathan Lethem

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-15-136458-3
Publisher: Harcourt

 Conrad Metcalf is a p.i. (Private Inquisitor) with more than the usual problems: he's switched nerve endings in his sex organs with his absent girlfriend; he's running low on the karma points that keep him out of the state-ordained deep-freeze; and he keeps asking questions in a futuristic world in which mind-numbing drugs are pandemic and curiosity is rude at best. When Dr. Maynard Stanhurt, the Oakland urologist who'd recently hired Metcalf to tail his wife Celeste, is killed, the postmodern p.i. fights to clear karma-poor Orton Angwine, brother of Celeste's housemate Pansy Greenleaf, from the freezer as well. Slinging cyberspeak and tags from Raymond Chandler with equal panache, waggish Metcalf holds his own against a pair of tough Public Inquisitors, babyhead Barry Greenleaf, and a variety of genetically enhanced rabbits, kittens, dogs, and a kangaroo enforcer named Joey Castle. But it isn't until after his own karma runs out and he emerges from a six-year freeze to an incomparably bleaker world--memory is now illegal--that Metcalf finally puts the pieces together. A first novel whose mix of genres and voices (``Tell him next time he wants to talk to me, don't send a marsupial'') comically focuses a nightmare hash of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.