A decent novel by Jack McDevitt, won a Nebula and all that. But what about the story?
This is an Alex Benedict novel, the second in a series, which I started first. Yeah, that’s me. I completed the Hutch series of books and wanted to continue with McDevitt in a similar universe, but 9,000 years later, when space travel is easy and “warping” (my word) to distant places is as easy as taking a boat across the Atlantic.
Plots and Contrivances:
Benedict is a treasure hunter and with his aide Chase, find archeological artifacts and then put them up for auction and use that money for further exploration. They consider they are explorers and if they didn’t put the stuff out for people to see, it would rot in an alien cave or be undisturbed or unknown for thousands of years. Can’t have that!
Some admire the team. Others hate them and call them “grave robbers” which is the main impetus of the tale.
Someone knows of Benedict’s expeditions. Someone looted an area that he had already discovered. Further, someone is trying to kill him and Chase!
But I digress.
The book starts with a man who is crushed under an avalanche and regrets it, since he made an amazing discovery, a major archeological find, and now he is going to die under tons of ice and snow, hoping against hope that someone finds what he found out.
Through pure luck, someone walks into Benedict’s offices and presents a cup that has no previous history. It’s from her ex, who is a robber, whose ex’s father (who has since been mindwiped and not a criminal anymore) had stolen the cup from a rich family, who happens to be related to the guy who was buried under the snow at the start of the story.
And someone is trying to kill Benedict and Chase to prevent them from further discovery as they trace the cup through some pretty unusual and frankly crazy coincidences.
The girl who brought in the cup, not really smart and not bright in the ways of romance. Chase helps but ends up getting hurt in the process. The girl is not much of a character.
The adventure to the Mutes, the only other civilization they know of, that is a race of telepaths. Chase has a fun time with them – NOT.
The whole AI (artificial intelligence) angle, enjoyable.
The ending (no spoilers!) really wraps things up nicely and I was somewhat surprised who the true antagonist was.
Moral judgment and radical terrorism in the vein of archeology and grave-robbing, as well as civilizations old and new pepper this novel. Sometimes convoluted, but a fun read overall.
Still, not as good as his Hutch novels – so far.
On to “Polaris” (the first in the Alex Benedict series).