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Meter Made by M. D. Benoit
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Meter Made (edition 2005)

by M. D. Benoit

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Member:mdbenoit
Title:Meter Made
Authors:M. D. Benoit
Info:Zumaya Publications, LLC (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:science fiction, mystery, aliens, humor, Ottawa, parallel universes, doppelganger, intergalactic agency, travel, Canada, fiction, Canadian fiction

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Meter Made by M. D. Benoit

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Meter Made 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. The first novel in the series (Metered Space, Zumaya) introduced private eye, Jack Meter, who had an encounter with aliens that changed everything for him. In contrast to the typical sci fi stock character, (in my experience, sci fi authors tend to be strong on ideas and weak on characterization) Jack is unique, memorable and all-too-human. In Meter Made, he 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 Annie 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 implanted in his arm which allows him to go anywhere in the universe just by imagining himself there.

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 jjgsaw puzzle pieces fit smartly together and every event is precisely positioned to build upon previous events and lead smoothly to the climax. The real genuis is in the tiny details, such as the dead accurate behavior of three smarter-than-the-ordinary children:

The patter of tiny feet on the stairs jolted me out of my brooding. The triple-E’s appeared, Erin in front, as if to protect his two sisters. They smiled hesitantly.
“Mom says to come up for your snack, Daddy wants to wring your neck, too.”
“That’s what he said, huh?”
Eric nodded. That’s ‘cause you’re an insiderate jerk. What does insiderate mean?”
“I think you mean inconsiderate….”

During the course of his investigation, Jack Meter learns lessons about whom to trust and works through the process of grief. By story’s end, his earlier wish to die has come true and he accepts it without a lick of sentimentality. In a memorable scene, he discards a piece of himself--his dying parallel self--an essential part of healing anyone who has suffered a great loss understands.


For those who don’t read much sci fi, be assured that there is not a single eye-glazing moment in Meter Made. MD. Benoit draws upon speculative quantum physics in the book, but she resists the temptation to turn it into a tedious college lecture and simply allows the science to percolate through her fertile imagination and into the story.

This 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. And sex, somehow, barely comes into it. Real sex, somehow, would ruin it. But you can get sex anywhere. From Meter Made, you get a strong narrative voice and a fast-paced idea-packed tale that keeps you hooked until the very last page.

Because this series is only two books old, it’s impossible to say whether the quality of the Jack Meter casefiles will remain consistent. But MD Benoit is clearly poised to knock it out of the park and into low-earth orbit. ( )
  CherylSwanson | Dec 22, 2006 |
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In Memoriam: Donalda Bonin Fournier (1911-2003)
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