Monday, December 15, 2008

Peacekeeper - Laura E. Reeve

A Major Ariane Kedros Novel
Laura E. Reeve

Science Fiction/Mystery

Major Ariane (Ari) Kedros is not who she appears to be. Fifteen years ago, she was part of a wartime Autonomist spaceship crew that unknowingly delivered a time distortion weapon. They dispatched the weapon before realizing what they had done. As a result, an entire Terran world may or may not have been obliterated. Since the explosion (or “glitch”) destroyed the local time buoy, the rest of mankind has to wait for lightspeed transmissions from the area; messages that won’t arrive for several more months. The Intelligence Directorate provided new identities to personnel involved with delivering and detonating the weapon.

Before the fate of that world is known, however, the Terrans and the Autonomists are working out a mutual disarmament treaty. The two factions fundamentally disagree about just about everything, from theology to the origin of the species. With the encouragement of the alien race known as Minoans – who provided the technology for faster-than-light travel, but only as a finished product – each side is beginning to inspect the other side’s military space installations.

Her handler sends Ari to the first space station to be inspected. She has an ulterior motive, of course. Recently, almost all of the people involved in setting up, delivering, or detonating the time distortion weapon have been murdered by unknown agents. All of these people had new, false identities. It’s well known that the Terran State Prince Isrid Sun Parmet still carries murderous anger over the destruction of the Terran planet; his brother lived there. But it’s looking more and more possible that there’s an inside mole, feeding classified information to the killer(s). It can’t possibly be a coincidence that Parmet will be part of the delegation arriving at the space station. Or that another potential victim is the man in charge of the place.

There’s a lot going on in this debut novel. There’s the political plotting, the murder plot that clearly ties into the politics, Ari’s ambiguous feelings about her part in past events and her current situation as a mostly-unwilling undercover intelligence operative. When she’s not working as an agent, she works with an independent exploration company. On their last prospecting trip, they may have found the artifacts of a lost space-faring civilization. Ari is called away before anything develops on that score, leaving her partner, Matt, to deal with the considerable fallout.

Even though there are multiple subplots and a large cast, the author manages to keep everything moving forward in a logical manner. Politics permeate everything in this society, just as in our own. There are at least two sides to everything, and no situation is entirely black-and-white. I felt that a lot of the circumstances here were a little too obvious as parallels to recent world events, but that’s a small quibble. Ari is a damaged and conflicted character, doing her best to do what’s right. Or, at least, what seems right at the time. This is the start of what promises to be a superior scifi series.

Rating: 7 1/2
December 2008
ISBN# 978-0-451-46245-9 (paperback)


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