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From Distant Stars (SF) - Sam Peters ****

What we have here is a satisfying detective thriller with lashings of juicy conspiracy theory, all set in a future colony where a selection of humans had been dumped many decades before by mysterious alien invaders. Although it is a sequel to Sam Peters' From Darkest Skies, there was no problem coming to From Distant Stars as I did without having read the previous title - in fact there's enough back story here that it might seem overdone if you come to this second.

The great thing about this book is that there are big underlying themes and the reader is presented with a real mystery about what is going on, as to begin with problems and onslaughts pile into the team of detectives. The hospital became a regular location, given the pounding some characters take. Peters makes good use of the tech, which via a built-in 'servant' provides a kind of super Siri service that feeds information to lenses in the eyes, so quite often a character can be talking to someone and simultaneously receiving a second feed of information.

The only downside to this is that during complex scenes, particularly the three or four all-out battles, it gets very difficult to follow the flow of where information is coming from and who is doing what to whom. It was a combination of this confusion and the fact that I guessed the main twist in the ending about halfway through what is a quite lengthy book that prevented me from giving From Distant Stars a five star rating. (It's a very minor moan, but it was also amusing that the cover proclaims 'His wife died. Her digital copy has been erased. So who is using her name?' But I can't recall anywhere in the plot that features someone using his wife's name.)

As Peters gets into top gear in the last fifty pages or so it becomes a true un-put-downable page turner, and though there are clear hooks being set up for a sequel, the ending (unlike some series books) is satisfying enough to make this feel like a good stand-alone read. There's no sense of being let down at the end.

All in all, Peters had made an impressive contribution to the thriving 'detectives in space' sub genre, and I look forward to more.


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Review by Brian Clegg

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