The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.
Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.
First mate ‘Shell’ Campion awakens from the ten-year slumber of intergalactic travel… this is her first journey and what is supposed to be solely a ceremonial position because the ship’s AI never… NEVER fail. Only this time it does, and there waiting for Shell’s eyes to open are 31 dead bodies of the Bloodroot colonists.
With the help of Fin and his animated partner (sorta an android and sorta not), Shell has to investigate the murders at the same time as new dangers start to develop.. Part of Ragtime breaks off, experiments escape from their pods, and the backup AI isn’t exactly helpful. Chapters start to introduce new characters and the focus pulls back and forth between people on the surface vs the quasi-team that is trying to save the rest of the thousand people still in cryo…
I liked the characters, the adventure, and most of all the inventiveness and ingenuity in the problem solving. My minor criticism is in the characterization… the author uses separate chapters to relate anecdotes and background about the characters instead of integrating this info into the storyline. Pros: Dedicated time to focus on the characters and kept the actual storyline humming. Cons: Broke up the overall pacing and was slightly distracting.
Overall, an entertaining book that can definitely be seen as a lock-room mystery in space. And, also as the author describes in the afterword, the premise partly can explain the feeling of being fresh out of medical school or training without any experience as Shell is in the novel and Thompson.
A little of a mixed review, but if you have read Thompson’s other works you know his imagination will bring Wows and Ohhhhs!
4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Orbits Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.