Review of THE DEVIL'S EYE by Jack McDevitt (see his website)
AN ALEX BENEDICT NOVEL
Ace, November 2008
It starts with a strange message. Horror author Vicki Greene claims they're 'all dying' and then signs out--and has her brain and personality erased after first leaving a huge payment in antiquities dealer Alex Benedict's account. Shortly before her personality erasure, Vicki had visited Salud Afar, a planet circling a star outside the Milky Way galaxy and Alex decides he and his assistant, Chase Kolpath, have got to put their lives aside and follow Vicki's path. Because her message and her money have got to mean something.
Salud Afar is a horror fan's dream-come-true. Every village seems to have stories of ghosts, restless spirits, werewolves, or mad scientists run amuck. Overhead, the giant star Callistra stares down--known to the locals as 'the Devil's Eye.' Meanwhile, conflict between humans and the alien species known as 'Muties' simmers near the boil.
Chase is frustrated but not surprised to discover one hoax after another. Salud Afar is very far indeed from the inhabited stars of the Confederacy and depends on tourist dollars, but it's clear that there's something other than hoaxes because Vicki did come back damaged.
Alex and Chase's investigation eventually sets off alarms somewhere and security forces arrest them, believing they've already learned whatever secret Vicki knew. Separated, on the run, and with little to go on, Chase must somehow learn whatever the entire world seems intent on hiding...and stay alive while doing it. What she doesn't know, however, is that learning the secret will put her into even more danger.
Author Jack McDevitt combines mystery, science fiction and probing social comentary in a strong and compelling story. Chase Kolpath, in particular, comes off as spunky, clever and three-dimensional. McDevitt's analysis of the relationship between humans and muties definitely has some lessons for us in the merely human world. This was my first experience with McDevitt and I have to say, I'll look for more. Very enjoyable.
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