Kristine Kathryn Rusch,
(Roc, 2003)

Extremes was my introduction to the writings of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and I am now impatient to read other books by her, more science-fiction as well as her acclaimed fantasy.

This is essentially a whodunnit, but with intriguing twists and turns worthy of Raymond Chandler, but ultimately much better explained! Police are called to the site of the moon's prestigious Extreme Marathon; deaths are not uncommon during such an event, but Det. Noelle DeRicci is quick to discover that the young woman did not suffer accidental oxygen deprivation. Whatever the cause of death, this was murder.

Despite the political implications and the likely effect on her already stalled career, she initiates a full investigation, alienating both her boss and the touchy and individualistic race officials, while throwing her rookie partner in at the deep end to experience the problems of an "outside" investigation -- the constant dangers, the unforeseen difficulties with evidence outside the contained atmosphere of the populated moon dome.

Retrieval Artist Miles Flint is a loner, as his type always are; disillusioned and off the force, he now operates on the edges of the law, an antisocial Sam Spade tracing the "Disappeared," people who have gone on the run, altering their identities and lifestyles in an attempt to evade alien justice. He reluctantly accepts hire to investigate the death of another Retrieval Artist, allegedly of a viral infection and apparently while on the trail of a Disappeared. Miles may work alone, but he needs to call in a life's worth of favours from former colleagues and aquaintances to find out more than he can possibly discover within the allotted time. It becomes clear that there is a chilling link between the two deaths; the Disappeared turns out to be a scientist accused of deliberately allowing hundreds of settlers to die in an extreme biological experiment.

Time becomes a major issue as separate parties seek to limit damage to the publicity of the moon's major tourist attraction, find out the identity of the dead woman, follow clues to unmask the murderer and ascertain the involvement of the scientist who held such extreme beliefs she sacrificed a community to prove her point. Rusch writes a compelling plot, layers upon layers, intelligent and intense. It is difficult to put down, with too many questions pressing on the reader's consciousness. A need to sort the red herrings from the true clues, the motivation and the madness, and a certainty that, with this author, the ending will not be a trite let-down, keeps the reader turning pages late into the night. This is an excellent futuristic detective novel that tempts one to buy her preceding, stand-alone book, The Disappeared.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 21 February 2004

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