THE ARK Deep-space detection
released OUT NOW! 400 pages | Paperback/ebook
Author Patrick s Tomlinson
Publisher angry robot
The Earth has been destroyed, and humanity reduced to 50,000 souls on a giant spaceship, but people still need detectives. Bryan Benson is part of the police force on the eponymous craft, near the end of its two-century journey to a new planetary home. He’s presented with a missing-man case which involves Monet paintings, anonymous assassins, class tensions and secrets in the Ark’s dark depths.
Much of the first half is highly enjoyable, a lightweight but smart mashup of trad space opera and trad detecting. But the problems multiply, with terribly cheesy dialogue, an overprotracted mystery, some very convenient clues and a problem of scale. With humanity’s fate about to be decided, it’s hard to stay riveted by Benson’s drawn-out investigation, despite his conviction that the two are connected. Perversely, when there’s a massive 9/11-style disaster, it feels indecently skimmed over as the plot finally speeds up.
Benson himself is a fairly multi-dimensional hero, but other characters vary; a fearsome old-woman museum curator is good fun, while an underage Asian “tart with a heart” is a bad misstep. But the final wrap-up is satisfying, despite obvious hooks for next year’s sequel. Andrew Osmond
The plot involves the pistol used to kill Archduke Ferdinand, now property of the Vienna Museum of Military History.
Xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx Behold the world’s least comfortable armchair.