If there is anything the world never seems to tire of, it’s the murder mystery. (If it were the US, I would say mass shootings...) Likely the first form, if not the most basic form of genre, the number of iterations of: figuring out how someone died and apprehending the culprit may just occupy the largest percentage of books, film, and television in the West. Dabbling in the murder mystery medium in Jack Glass, in 2017 Adam Roberts returns with another pop-sf effort in The Real-Town Murders. And is it ever slaPdaSh.
More specifically a locked-room mystery (we even have sub-genres of murder), The Real-Town Murders opens with private investigator Alma on the scene of the crime. An auto-mobile manufactory, she watches the security video of a car being 3D printed from raw materials on the factory floor, guided only by the hands of robots, yet a corpse somehow ending up in the car’s trunk at the end of the process. The factory’s AI no help, Alma turns to interview the QA employee who found the body, but is quickly cut-off by a high-level government investigator. Brought to the morgue, Alma is shown the corpse and politely informed she is off the case; the government will take over. Upon returning home and discovering her data feed has been wiped of all information related to the case, Alma is contacted by a person who claims to have top secret information about the murder. Meeting the shadowy man at a nearby café, it isn’t long before Alma is dragged back into the case—if not just to find out how the murder was done.