Book Review: Assassin's Orbit by John Appel

by @edent | # # #

Book cover.

Murder makes unlikely allies. On the eve of the planet Ileri's historic vote to join the Commonwealth, the assassination of a government minister threatens to shatter everything. Private investigator Noo Okereke and spy Meiko Ogawa join forces with police chief Toiwa to investigate - and discover clues that point disturbingly toward a threat humanity thought they had escaped. A threat that could destroy Ileri and spark an interplanetary war... unless the disparate team can work together to solve the mystery.

This is billed as Golden Girls meets Babylon 5 - which is odd and inaccurate. There's a human-only space station - so no exotic aliens or weird cultures to explore. The cast of characters are on the mature side - rather than excitable kids with laser guns. But it isn't particularly obvious.

The plot is a bit tangled. Lots of politics without the exposition to make it interesting. There are vague hints of top-secret nanobot drama, but with no real villain identified until halfway through it all feels a bit vague. Effectively the first half is a police-procedural with some sci-fi trappings.

The use of tech is very well thought out. It gives a great vision of what persistent Augmented Reality would be like - and there's some fun to be had in the idea of what computer hacking looks like in the future. As it progresses, it becomes increasingly cyberpunk.

Sadly, the cast is just too large. By half-way through the book, I felt that I didn't know who was who or what they were doing. I kinda gave up trying to keep track and just went along for the ride. The book doesn't quite know what it wants to be. Is it an emotional melodrama or a space shoot-em-up? Is it a political intrigue or police pot-boiler?

It's a good story - but doesn't quite pull all the elements together.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy. The book is released in a few weeks and can be pre-ordered from the following links:

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