Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm running a little behind in reviews, even though it has been the Christmas vacation and I've been off work.

The second last book I finished was Anne Perry's No Graves As Yet. It is built around two brothers, one a pastor and teacher at Cambridge, the other a government agent for the Secret Intelligence Service (later to be called MI6). The book starts with the death of their parents, who were coming to tell the spy brother about a conspiracy, and is complicated by the death of a Cambridge student.

In some ways, it is an old fashioned British mystery, set amongst the upper class before the Great War. But it spends a lot more time developing the characters of the two brothers as they go about figuring out if their parents were killed, who killed the student, and if the deaths are related. It's quite well written, and works as a stand alone book, although it is actually the start of a multi-book series.

It does feel a bit lopsided by the end, as one brother is dropped from the narrative for most of the second half and only re-appears at the end.

The last book I finished is Clarke County, Space by Allen Steele. I had read it before, many years ago but had misplaced my copy.

This book is part of his series of loosely related near future books (called the Near Space or Rude Astronauts series). These were Steele's attempt to bring near future SF "back to Earth", in a sense. They are grittier and more realistic than much SF, and use a lot of background Steele learned as a journalist covering the US space program. It is set on an orbiting station just as it decides to break away from its position as a US colony, and as a hitman pursues a fugitive aboard.

I wish Steele would go back to writing in this world, as it was quite interesting and is still different from most SF books. He has since moved on to other series, mainly the Coyote books, which I don't enjoy as much.

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