Author: Becky Black
Publisher: Loose Id
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Ash Bowman is lost. Two years ago he and his cop partner, Evelyn, walked in on a murder in progress that left her dead and him maimed. He left the force and became a private investigator, but business is suffering because of his obsession with mapping the Core of the space station Fraxin Yari, where Evelyn’s ghost haunts him as he prowls the dark corridors.
Journalist Gabe Whitfield is on a mission to learn the truth behind that same murder. He doesn’t expect to stay on Frax after he finishes the job. But meeting Ash Bowman changes his plans. He came to the station a man without ties. He isn’t going to leave the same way.
Despite initially mistrusting him, Ash can’t resist his attraction to the fiery Gabe. Gabe responds, though knows he shouldn’t when Ash is one of the subjects of his investigation. But they come to trust each other and join forces to find the answers Ash had almost forgotten he was still seeking. If they are to have any chance of happiness, Gabe must help Ash lay the ghosts calling him back again and again to the deep darkness of the Core.
Review: Gabe Whitfield hires Ash Bowman to find someone. Gabe neglects to give Ash all the details on why he wants this guy found. Gabe is a journalist investigating a political assassination. Gabe also believes that assassination is tied into the murder of Ash’s partner and the maiming of Ash. Being a private investigator, Ash figures out who Gabe is and realizes the guy he’s looking for is tied to the other murder victim from the day Ash was shot and his partner was murdered. Unfortunately for both guys, or maybe fortunately, they’re both feeling some deep attraction and would like to continue working together. And they’d like to start a sexual relationship. It’s not easy being gay on a space station full of homophobes. It’s not illegal to be gay, but Ash believes both the sexuality of him and his partner was the prime reason his partner died. Even Ash’s friend on the force and former sexual partner is firmly closeted.
Gabe quickly begins to realize his boss is on to something. It does look as though the political elite was somehow involved in the assassination, but suspecting people and suspecting a motive don’t actually prove anything. Gabe needs solid proof and he needs Ash’s help to find it. To help Gabe Ash needs to face his fears and possibly relive the worst day of his life. Ash also comes to the realization his trust has been misplaced and his actions have cost lives.
There was a Gangs of New York feel to this story, which was actually really cool as it was set on a space station. The Red Irish from Mars were both a force to be reckoned with and a bit downtrodden. They were again refugees, but from war as opposed to famine. Law and order existed for the wealthier inhabitants of the station while gang rule existed for those inhabitants who lived in the core. Upon this backdrop we had an investigation that examined how the elite ran the core. It was a fantastic mish-mash of the cops, the mob, a noir detective, and journalistic muckraking all on a space station with some PTSD thrown in to accompany the murders.
I liked the characters of Ash and Gabe. They were compelling. Their relationship felt kind of rushed, but was believable enough. As much as I don’t want to prefer one character over another when I read, I did find myself more attuned to Ash. His struggle to admit to himself he had a raging case of PTSD was good. He didn’t want to cut back on coffee and go to therapy but he did. This isn’t to say I didn’t like Gabe. He was a scrapper and feisty. His anger was justified and his forgiveness was merciful. Ash and Gabe were good together.
This book was science fiction, but felt more like a mob mystery. Which is impressive while talking about Irish Martians. I liked that. I would heartily recommend it to mystery readers as well as science fiction fans.