Null Set, A Cas Russell Novel by S. L. Huang

I read Zero Sum Game last year and enjoyed Cas Russell’s character and her new crew’s fight against the telepaths. But at the heart of it, Cas is the draw of this series. The vectors and statistics, the automatic mathematical deductions, and her mysterious past… She’s a loner who now has a ‘found-family’ in Arthur, Checker, and Pilar. Cas still finds it hard to trust people, but she does and she knows she is better for it.

The beginning of Null Set finds Arthur and Cas trying to break up a child-smuggling ring that has ties to a mastermind gangster who oversees much of the illegal operations in the Los Angeles area. The gangs are mad that Cas and her crew have chosen to mess with their moneymaking schemes, so they strike back…  and the plot takes a left turn when Cas’s memory starts shorting out. Images and clips from her past start appearing in the midst of gun fights as if the adrenaline is triggering these brain seizures. And then a ghost named Simon intercepts Cas leaving Checker’s place. He knows things and is somehow connected to Rio.

I’ll leave the plot summary there and give you my thoughts about this sequel to Zero Sum Game… I thought it was an interesting choice for Huang to change the sequence of her original novels. This was the plot of the 4th book and it seems like as thriller/ detective series goes, that is a good place for it. The basic plot line of this genre usually includes an opening action scene, intro of new bad boss man, and then some plot twists and a bang-up ending. I did not expect so much introspection and character reveals in a second book. I thought there would be a couple more books to get to know Cas before getting too deep.

Is this a bad review? I’m not sure. I still like this character, even though she reverted a little back to angry loner in this one a bit. And I think Huang writes tremendous action sequences and I buy in to every description of mathematics she writes. I just thought this was ill-placed in the series. I would have liked a couple more straight mission plots with this character.

3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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