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Review: Far From the Light of Heaven

Summary

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book and I give it 3.5 stars rounded up.

Thompson’s writing, on its own, is outstanding. From the very first page I had trouble putting this book down and, for a novel that can be tech heavy in parts, it is a very quick read.

At its heart, this book is your traditional locked room mystery, but nothing about it feels traditional. The pacing and the management of what information is released when (so important for mysteries) is top notch. The majority of the characters, individually, were also wonderfully fleshed out and felt like real people you could actually meet. Further, I really appreciated the ending of the book. Thompson does a fantastic job of wrapping up all of the loose ends of the actual story, while at the same time not compromising his messy, very human characters.

Honestly, there was a thing here or there I could nitpick at, but the only truly significant criticism I have for the book is about how some of the interpersonal relationships developed. Without getting into spoilers, some of the relationships, or moments thereof, just rang false. This is a book that runs at a break-neck speed and takes place over only a handful of days. So there were times where the characters felt, not so much overly intimate (that is understandable given the stress levels the entire time – brothers in arms and all that) but overly knowledgeable of, and established,with each other. There was one relationship in particular that was overly developed within that time frame. There was even a long flashback near the end of the book that made me think “okay, WHEN could this have even happened?” It just felt so out of place.

But even with that, I still got out of bed at quarter to 1 in the morning to go get Rosewater and fought myself about ordering books 2 &3 of the trilogy immediately. If you like fast paced SF or just a good ol’ fashioned locked room mystery, I definitely recommend picking this one up.