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These Supercharged Mysteries Featuring Robots Will Hook You Bolt by Bolt

Try not to get your wires crossed as you read these thrilling mysteries.


In 1967, the animated show The Jetsons debuted showing a world where robots are integrated into our lives, like working as a maid like Rosie or even as the family dog, Sentro. Sixty years later, our views on robots are not nearly so rosy as we have seen the rise of drones, self-driving cars, and even killer police robots.

 As society currently debates the merits of adding more robots into our daily lives, these seven authors have written about future worlds where robots are part of everyday life. But in these recently published books, something goes wrong, whether it's a dead body (or more), or full-on sabotage. In these books, robots serve in many roles from detective to suspect—and everything in between.

red dust by yoss

Red Dust

By Yoss, translated by David Frye

This recently translated book is an homage to the great Raymond Chandler. But instead of a private investigator with a drinking problem, there’s Raymond, a member of the robotic police force, who dresses in a fedora and trench coat.

 His mission is to keep the peace on space station William Burroughs on the outskirts of the solar system. He’s been given a monumental task: track down a fugitive Cetian named Makrow 34 who can alter the laws of physics to his will. Using his knowledge of detective books and stories, can Raymond catch this criminal wreaking havoc across the solar system?

all systems red

All Systems Red

By Martha Wells

After hacking its own system, the security robot named itself “Murderbot ''. When it isn’t providing the bare minimum of security support to the exploratory team on this new planet, Murderbot spends all its free time watching television shows. The team doesn’t know that Murderbot is now a free agent and that’s how it wants it to stay.

Murderbot knows that the company that has supplied the team for the surveying mission likes to cut corners to maximize profit. But when several mishaps keep happening, putting the crew at risk, Murderbot might have to risk its independence to keep the crew alive and help figure out what is happening and who might be behind it. It’s the first in the Murderbot series with book seven coming out in November.

we have always been here

We Have Always Been Here

By Lena Nguyen

In this thriller, Dr. Grace Park has generally preferred the company of robots to that of her fellow humans. On the Deucalion ship on its way to Eos, that hasn’t changed. Even though she is the ship’s psychologist, she prefers the thirteen robots over the thirteen humans. But when they arrive at their destination, one by one the humans are falling to madness and Dr. Park does not know why. She’ll have to get to the bottom of this before it’s too late.

made to kill

Made to Kill

By Adam Christopher

For folks who want more hard-boiled detectives in their mysteries, this one's for you. He may be the last robot on earth but that doesn’t stop Raymond Electromatic from doing his job as a detective with his Girl Friday, computer Ada. So when a woman offers him cash to find a missing actor, Ray takes the job. 

Things get hairy and fast when she disappears. Add in communists, body-switching technology, and Ray has a lot on his robotic plate. In other words, it’s like any other detective case—nothing ever is as it seems. It’s the first in the three book, two novella Ray Electromatic Mysteries Series.

the automatic detective

The Automatic Detective

By A. Lee Martinez

Even though Mack Megaton was designed to be a mass killing machine, he just doesn’t want to do it anymore. Now he’s driving a cab, working with a therapist, and waiting to be granted full citizenship in Empire City. When his friend and neighbor and their children are kidnapped, Mack decides he has to find them. But that means diving into the seedy underworld of Empire City. Can he save his friends in a world suspicious and hostile of robots, especially ones that look like him?

from darkest skies

From Darkest Skies

By Sam Peters

Losing a loved one is hard; it’s worse when you don’t have closure on how they died. But Koen Rause has a plan. He’s returned to his former employer Magentan Intelligence Service with an artificial reconstruction of his wife Alysha, set on finding out the truth about her death when her train exploded.

 Rause knows that something was afoot before her death; she didn’t tell him that she was taking the train that wasn’t supposed to have passengers on it. He has taken on cases to see if he and his “Alysha” can figure out the circumstances of her death. Will he stop at nothing to get the truth? Will it actually give him closure? It’s the first in the From Darkest Skies trilogy.

head on

Head On

By John Scalzi

While it’s technically the sequel to Lock In, this standalone mystery features a robot as the victim. In the sport Hilketa, the players are supposed to lose their heads; you win by getting your opponent’s head through the goalposts. The players are robots controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome; they are locked into their bodies but can interact with the world through technology.

 But when one of the players dies in real life, FBI Agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann have to get to the bottom of the murder, looking into the dark side of this sport.