- The Good: Murder aboard a space cruise! Cocktails and tech abound.
- The Bad: Entitled protagonist
- The Literary: Scifi tech; a sweet puppy
Tesla Crane is reluctant to go on an interplanetary space cruise for her honeymoon because she can’t go anywhere without being recognized for as the tech inventor and heiress of the Crane fortune, but her husband convinces her that she can travel incognito. Just when she starts enjoying the time canoodling, playing with her dog, and drinking lots of cocktails, someone gets murdered and her spouse is a suspect.
First off, there’s some fun science fiction in here, so let’s start with the ship traveling between the Moon and Mars. Kowal calculated the exact day best for the story and science, Tuesday, April 30, 2075, for the twelve-day trip. Under constant thrust, the ship provides consistent Lunar gravity to the central column of the ship. Two centrifugal rings circling the central column keep Martian and Terran gravity.
Tesla also has some tech inside of her. After a terrible accident seven years prior, in which a mistake on her part killed several people working for her company, she had a Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) installed to manager her pain. She dials the Stimulator up or down depending on the severity of the pain. DBS are current medical technologies used to treat epilepsy and Parkinson’s, but managing such a personal experience as pain really is cool science fiction.
The little mystery is fun, which is good, because it turns out to be the central plot. I can’t help but mention Tesla’s dog, who literally steals the show. Apparently, in this future real dogs are far and few between, and there’s only one on the ship, so nearly everyone is excited to meet her. And who doesn’t love a cute, very good dog! I’ve also been enjoying the exploration of pronouns in many new scifi fantasy works, and this book is no exception.
Unfortunately, I don’t like Tesla. She’s demanding and spoiled. She’s richer than she has any right to be and throws money at problems. She bullies and intimidates those around her with her wealth and power. Everyone loves her because she’s famous, and anytime she posts on whatever social media platform she’s using, people show up in droves on her behalf. In theory, she’s a badass engineer, but the scenes where she shows any ingenuity are few and far between.
The gimmick of the novel is a cocktail recipe at the beginning of every chapter, and though Tesla doesn’t always drink the cocktail of the chapter, she certainly maintains a buzz throughout, despite her husband being imprisoned and beaten, investigating the murder herself, chronic pain, and occasional panic attacks. The drunkenness adds to the levity of the story, emphasizing that this as a light mystery, which lowers the overall stakes.
Recommended for fans of scifi mysteries.