Saturday, August 6, 2011
Novella by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Another forgettable Rusch novella. It takes place in the Retrieval Artist universe, but I haven't read enough of those to notice much significance to this. Nor do I particularly want to. Rusch isn't a bad writer, but I don't think she's terribly consistent. A bit too caught up in making everything into a never-ending series to really get the most out of some of her ideas. This one is set on the moon in the future, but it doesn't feel like the moon and doesn't need the SF setting for anything besides getting a few more Analog novellas out of it. The presumably fit protagonist also struggles overly much with an uphill climb and lifting an injured woman considering moon-gravity. This annoys me, almost as much as my suspicion that the setting is there only to serve a more arching multi-novella plot I'm not that interested in.
Anyway, it's a competent pair of police procedural stories, an investigation into a developing series of terrorist attacks interspersed with flashbacks of a murder investigation from four years ago. The terrorist case is never solved, ending with a crisis averted and a lead to follow in the next novella. The murder case is frustrating in that all the clues observed turn out irrelevant, and aren't dealt with at all, merely resolving the mystery with the guilty party attacking the cops and thus establishing guilt. These aren't so frustrating if we look at the story as a character study of Detective Bartholomew Nyquist, but his transition from disaffected grumpy detective to heroic slightly-grumpy detective is left largely unexplained, details presumably to be filled in with the undoubtedly upcoming novella about an attempt on his life which Rusch mentions about ten times, but refuses to elaborate or give any detail. He is an interesting character, if a bit standard-issue, but Rusch seems to be saving a lot of the interesting bits of characterization to dole out in three or four more novellas.
Despite all my complaining, this is a decent thriller. I was unable to stop reading, even when my primary interest, if asked, was what connection the two mysteries had in common to justify their presentation as one story (not enough). The sort of story you can't put down, but once finished, wonder where your forty pages went. I honestly can't remember what took so many pages, or figure out how I failed to notice or get bored. But the fact is I wasn't bored. I just doubt I'll remember this story six months from now when the first of infinite sequels is published. And I'm a little bitter about the obviously serialization-induced name dropping, excess characters, and lack of detail in backstory, in case you didn't pick up on that. Still, not awful to read, just not worth your time unless you love all Rusch's work indiscriminately. And this is still legitimately more interesting and suspenseful than some.
2.5 assassinated moon-mayors out of 5.