Paloma Mass Market Paperback – Oct 3 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As the back cover reveals, Miles' mentor Paloma is killed and he's not about to leave that alone, even when he becomes a suspect. Things become a bit more interesting when Miles inherits a MacGuffin -- something everyone seems to want, but no one is quite sure what it is.
If you are new to the series, do not start here. The story depends on your feelings about Miles and his former partner DeRicci, among others. One may be better off starting with The Disappeared (the 1st book in the series) or Extremes (the 2nd).
So, on to the meat of the review....
The good parts:
I am fond of the characters. Here, as in other books in the series, the story is told from multiple points of view, here primarily Miles and Nyquist (the detective investigating Paloma's death). This means the reader often has more information than either character, but each tends to find similar clues at around the same time, so one doesn't spend much time mentally tapping one's feet waiting for the characters to catch up. This does, at times, lead to some odd coincidences, but nothing that will badly strain suspension of disbelief.
Miles finds out some things about Paloma that he'd prefer not to know, a not uncommon problem for anyone investigating a loved one's passing. There are some well-written character moments.
The story includes more background on the early history of Earth's contact with other races, the first Dissappearance Service, and the first Trackers and Retrieval Artists. For the most part, the exposition is worked into the plot well.
I like Rusch's information and crime scene descriptions and the feel she gives to the hard pressed officers of Armstrong's police and port police.
The Bad Parts:
Not enough aliens. The series often deals with human interactions with aliens and often with Miles thwarting alien efforts to exact draconic penalties on Miles' clients. The alien angle to this story is slight, and the aliens motivations less interesting than the Disty or the Wygnin.
One of Miles' antagonists appears fairly early in the book and drives much of the action, but there's little depth given to his motivations and reasons. Many of the characters talk about his power, contacts, and influence, but we don't really see these qualities demonstrated. He doesn't seem to pose enough risk to Miles to make him a good adversary.
There's some odd pacing between the plot and character development. I found myself noting that Miles learns about the MacGuffin by about page 70, but doesn't actually get to see it until nearly page 200, and even then there are more delays before it is examined and explained. While I like the character development, it does overshadow the plot at times.
The MacGuffin is protected by a series of administrative barriers. There's a good explanation for one of those barriers, but no good reason given for the others to exist. It feels like an odd loose end.
There's a sudden dramatic event that leads to Miles being on the run and ups the ante of consequences. It feels like this scene was important to the plot and to Nyquist's actions, but when Nyquist finds out who was behind the dramatic action and why, it feels anticlimatic both in the off-screen resolution which is reported to Nyquist and it seems out of character for the instigator considering the risk to innocents and the instigator's presented goals.
A normal police procedue in a homicide is to suspect the victim's family and friends. Miles becomes a suspect immediately, but there's a curious delay in investigating Paloma's kin. Had Nyquist pursued that angle, he might have avoided about a third of the plot.
In the opening paragraph, Miles is deprived of his office by a malfunctioning environmental system. This is a useful plot device, as it forces Miles away from his own resources, but it feels tacked on -- more could have been done with Miles' discomfort at being a snail forced from his shell dealing with a difficult situation without his usual resources.
All in all, worth my time, but not as gripping as other books in the series.
Paloma is the 5th in the Retrieval Artist Novels and it starts off with a BANG! Miles Flint has been off moon hiding out since his last case (he says he was on vacation but the last case bothered him so he left to reconsider what he was going to do) as he comes back to the Moon's surface he is hit with a message from Paloma (she sold him her Retrieval business) pleading, NO begging him to come and help her.
He rushes to her condo and finds police tape everywhere.
I will not ruin what happens but as Miles begins to unravel Paloma and all that she taught him he is thrown into a web of lies and inconsistencies that he finds hard to reconcile.
Paloma put him into a situation by naming him her heir thus pitting him against her children, he didn't know she had any, the legal system and some alien assassins.
As Miles wades through all the inconsistencies that turn out to be Paloma what he finds truly shatters his image of her and all that he thought she stood for.
I think this story brings to light those things that so many of us do. Many times we put on rose colored glasses and see only what we want to see. When cracks begin to form and the glasses come off the illusions are lost and now you have to deal with what is left.
If you have been enjoying the series like I have you will find Paloma a great read full of twists and turns!
Paloma's death and the events that follow bring Miles Flint, the Wagner's, Ki Bowles, Noelle DeRicci, and Detective Nyquist into sharp contrast with one another and events. It closes a lot of the action and side plots we have brushed against in the other books. Also, we learn that although we knew Paloma was a mysterious and secretive woman, most of us only skimmed the surface when we were speculating what that was all about...
Additionally, for those that don't like the humans being subject to alien law and punishment aspect of the books, there are more details about how that situation began that might clarify why the author uses it as the cornerstone. After all, if you spray paint cars in Singapore, you are going to get caned because that is the law there and you, no matter who you are, are subject to local law. What the early human-based corporations did was far, far worse than a little spray paint and all in the name of profit.
I still love these books and eagerly await the next one.
From the back cover:
As a Retrieval Artist, Mile Flint helps the Disappeared, saving the lives of those oppressed under the Earth Alliance regime. He owes his livelihood, and his very sense of honor, to a woman known as Paloma. It was she who was responsible for setting him on this path -- and now she has been murdered.
Summoned by Paloma's desperate call, Miles reaches her apartment too late. She is already dead, and a seemingly indifferent police force wants no part of Miles's offer of assistance. So he undertakes his own investigation and uncovers a link between Paloma's death and the Moon's largest law firm. The executives there are known to be ruthless -- and they have a secret they are clearly willing to kill to protect...
I agree with other reviewers that there was a lack of aliens in this one. However, I think that is made up for as character development is well explored in the novel and not just for our main guy Miles Flint. I found myself even sympathizing with a character I had previously disliked. Also, Miles struggle to come to terms with who Paloma really was and his idea of her made for a more exciting read than I expected. The beginning did have a odd pace, but by the end I was almost shaking with anticipation while reading the short, few page chapters that comprised the majority of the last 100 pages.
A good read for both mystery and sci fi fans, but read other books in the series first.