Tuesday, October 4, 2022

ARC Review: The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Spare Man

Mary Robinette Kowal
Publication: Tor Books (October 11, 2022)

Description: Hugo, Locus, and Nebula-Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense approach to life in space with her talent for creating glittering high-society in this stylish SF mystery, The Spare Man.

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.

My Thoughts: This science fiction mystery takes place on a spaceship heading for Mars. Tesla Crane and her new husband Shalmaneser Steward are on their honeymoon. They are traveling under aliases because Tesla is a very well-known heiress and a brilliant inventor who was in an accident that almost killed her and did kill six people working for her on a space station. She has a Deep Brain Pain Suppressor to help her manage the pain from her injuries. Shal is also famous as a detective who solved cold cases. He claims to be retired.

When the woman in the next cabin is murdered and Shal is found hovering over her body and with his fingerprints on the steak knife that was the murder weapon, it seems obvious to Tesla that someone is trying to frame him for the crime. It doesn't help that the ship's Chief of Security is more than willing to focus all of his attention on Shal. 

But there are lots of other mysterious characters on the ship including the rich guy who owns the ship and was in a relationship with the first victim. There's also the doctor who treats the first victim and likely ensures that she die. 

As Tesla tries to track down witnesses and identify suspects, she is assisted by her service dog Gimlet who is so cute he eases her way into all sorts of situations. She's also assisted by her cutthroat lawyer who is still on Earth and who's orders and advice are subject to varying time lags as the ship gets farther and farther from Earth. 

This was a very engaging story filled with interesting characters and with a nicely twisty mystery plot. I liked the worldbuilding with its projections of current trends from face masks to people including their preferred pronouns when they introduce themselves. I also liked the science fiction elements of the story some of which are extensions of current technology.

I recommend this one to science fiction fans and mystery fans too.

Favorite Quote:
Shal raised a finger. "Are octopoids and octobots the same thing?"

 "Oh, you are so adorable..." She leaned over and kissed him. "An octopoid is based on an octopus and has eight semiautonomous drivers, one for each leg. An octobot has a central processor and can be any eight-legged creation. And before you ask, my acubot is an octopoid."

"I'm going to smile and nod because I recognize all of those words."

Tesla laughed and headed for the closet, stepping just wrong enough on the curved floor that her back seized.

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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