I picked this one up at the library as I’m still into my space opera reading kick and it looked very promising.
Commander Elena Shaw is in dire need of shore leave and has tagged along with her firm friend Jessica to a bar that was recommended as ideal for visitors wanting a bit of fun, yet off the tourist trail. But when it comes to it – she finds she would rather be back on board and is just considering leaving, when an intriguing man starts to talk to her. A man that snags her interest, to the extent that she is able to ignore the fact that he is wearing the wrong uniform…
Take my advice and don’t read the very chatty blurb, which gives you some of the main plot points designed to draw you into the story – I just hate it when that happens! Instead, I have given just a introduction to the beginning of the first chapter, though, I hasten to add, while there is a significant love interest in this book, that’s not what is powering this vivid, intriguing mystery.
I really loved this one. Elena is an appealing protagonist, who has sufficient history to make her wary of being pulled into situations where she is liable to be hurt again. But this story is as much about Greg, a Central Corp captain who is defined by a tragedy in his past and how in the present he still struggles to put it into context. Of course, if the book was all about somewhat damaged characters staggering from the loves and losses of their past, I wouldn’t be giving this one the time of day – what makes it special, for me anyway, is the fact that it is set in a really intriguing corner of space.
Space opera is all about effective world building that gives a clear idea of the political and socio-economic setup across the galaxy without taking pages of dry information to do so. Bonesteel has this one nailed. Within a short space of time, I had a clear idea of how successful the colonisation attempts were and how effective the various terraforming projects have been – or not. Central Corps is the law enforcement agency that gets wheeled in to deal with events beyond the capability of colonists or the planetary police. As such, they need to be prepared for almost anything. So when something untoward happens to one of the crew, everyone is appalled and very shocked. I liked the fact that it really mattered to all the main characters, despite the fact that death is clearly part of the deal. It meant that the stakes mattered.
I stayed up far too late to find out what happens and burned through this one really quickly as I found it unputdownable. As with most mysteries, the good ones anyway, there were plenty of alternatives on offer as to what was happening before we got to the final climactic denouement, which was every bit as exciting and full of action as I could have hoped for. This one is highly recommended for fans of space opera.