Amateur detective Mallory Viridian’s talent for solving murders ruined her life on Earth and drove her to live on an alien space station, but her problems still follow her novel that puts a speculative spin on murder mysteries, from the Hugo-nominated author of Six Wakes.
... a thrilling ride starring interesting characters from the farthest reaches of the universe ... more creative than many stories with a similar setting, and its human characters are far more humble ... Lafferty describes various alien beings with dry wit, gusto and imagination ... Beyond the book’s sci-fi trappings, Lafferty also crafts a solid mystery, with perfectly timed reveals and clues, and her quick banter and endearing characters shine all the way to the finale. Mallory, her comrades and her foes all have flaws, and many of them are survivors of violent or abusive situations. The near-future world of Station Eternity is not a rosy utopia, and there is much discourse among the characters on the difficulties of being femme, or queer, or trans, or a person of color. It makes Mallory’s quest to protect Eternity—an island of hope, coexistence and cooperation in a vast, alien-eat-alien universe—all the more imperative.
This hemming and hawing about the humans’ arrival takes about a good first quarter of the book. I found this part to be a bit of a hurdle as my brain screamed, 'Get to the murders already!' But when they happen, boy, does it happen quickly! I don’t want to reveal the initial victim that kickstarts everything, as I was personally way off base in my own prediction and I don’t want to spoil any surprise ... While the motivation for the station’s murders and why Mallory carries this curse drives the plot forward, it’s in these observations of us by alien eyes that I found myself immersed ... Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the romance in the book. Yes, there is one, but I personally found it meh. However, I say this as someone who prefers steamier scenes and enemies to lovers. A friends to lovers or second chance trope does nothing for me, sadly. If you love those, you’ll probably find more satisfaction there ... While the setup did take longer than I had liked, stretching the tension to the limits of my patience, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough once we got to the actual murder mystery part. Meeting all of the aliens, seeing how they existed within the station, and their interactions with Mallory was a fun and charming way to world-build, even if it did make me ponder my own frail mortality in the face of potential alien contact. And, despite the romance not being my jam, I know it’ll work better for some of you out there.
The Midsolar Murders series starter offers fascinating world building, a complex mystery, a devious espionage plot, and delightful interactions with a multitude of alien species that fans of science fiction and compelling mysteries will savor while they anticipate the next installment.