Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by Tor on October 11, 2022
Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis, and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling--
And keep the real killer from striking again.
I love science fiction and every time I read it I wonder why I don’t read more of it. I’ve enjoyed this author before so I was happy to read The Spare Man. Not only is it science fiction, set in space, but it is also a murder mystery. The main characters are well suited to handle the situation with Tesla being a tech whiz and heiress, and her new husband, Shal being a detective.
Tesla and Shal are on their honeymoon. They are trying to stay below the radar so they can relax and not have to hide from people and paparazzi. Tesla has some wigs and makes herself up with disguises. She also has her service dog, Gimlet to distract people from herself. Tesla was in an accident and has to continually deal with the pain. Otherwise, we don’t learn very much about their lives as the focus is on their trip and their efforts to solve the mystery.
They come upon a murder scene. Tesla tries to save the victim, who is alive when she finds her. Shal chases the killer without success and ends up being a main suspect. Tesla works through the many connections and facts, trying to question witnesses. Her husband is held away from her by the ship security and they even beat him up. The ship security is not equipped to handle a murder investigation and have no legal ability to do so. They are not talented at evidence collection or protection of passengers either. The head of security is all ego and no brains.
Tesla and Shal, both don’t trust the doctor because the victim was alive and should have been easily saved. They work separately, and together, to clear Shal and find the true killer, and there are more victims. Increasingly, I worried they would become targets of the killer.
The plot is exquisite giving us all the clues but it is not easily solved. I never believed Tesla or Shal was the killer but there were many possibilities. There were many connections between people and people with secrets who made it all the more difficult to get at the truth. I really enjoyed this mystery, set in a space ship, with the romance of a honeymoon.
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