This is the first in a science fiction series: the Retrieval Artist. It’s set in a future where humans have colonized the Moon and Mars and have interstellar trade with at least three alien species. And the aliens aren’t humanoid and neither do they have human values.

Ekaterina Maakestad has to leave her life as an interstellar lawyer and her fiancée if she wants herself to live. Why? Because she has broken the laws of one of the aliens, the Rev, and unless she can make herself disappear she will spend the rest of her life in a hard labor camp which is not designed for fragile humans. She has contracted a Disappearance service which is supposed to be the best around. They have specialized in making humans, and aliens, in need to disappear from their previous lives. Unfortunately, it looks like someone in the company sold her out. Ekaterina manages to evade the aliens who are after her only to land in the only place where she might have a chance of survival: the Moon with its habitable domes. Of course, since the Rev have a legal warrant now she has to evade the local police.

Jamal has been on the run from the alien Wygnin for ten years. He has disappeared successfully on the Moon, married, and even started a family. However, his and his wife Dylani’s son disappears from their home. Jamal knows that the Wygnin are responsible and he’s right; soon they hear the Wygnin, their son and another human boy have been stopped in the Moon’s customs because the aliens don’t have warrants for the boys. Jamal gets his son back but it’s likely to be only temporary; the Wygnin don’t punish the wrong-doer but the one most precious to him: his first-born. Jamal starts to find a way out of his desperate situation.

Miles Flint is a space-cop who has been recently promoted to a detective. He’s dreamed about it for a long time but things just don’t seem to go as he wanted them to. First, his new partner is a very experienced detective Noelle DeRicci but she seems to have nothing but loathing for her new partner. She’s also not in a good standing with her fellow officers and apparently only one reprimand away from losing her badge. Flint’s cases are also quite distressing; they all involve humans caught up in alien legal systems. One starship which seems to have three brutally murdered humans is apparently just one alien species, the Disty, following their legal vengeance on not only just the criminal but everyone who has helped him or her. The Wygnin have apparently kidnapped two human children but they just might have legal warrants to take them away from their human families. And one woman who seems to be fleeing an alien justice system and Flint has to hand her over back to them – if he can find her first. Flint’s own sense of justice is tried hard.

This sci-fi world is intriguing and I’d love to read more about it. The aliens seem really inhuman not just in their appearance but more importantly in the way they think. I was very impressed by that. On the other hand, it would have been great to see how these justice systems came about and how humans could agree to them in the first place. But hopefully that will be explored in the future books.

The premise of the series, according to the series name Retrieval Artist, is to focus on people who find the humans who have used the services of a disappearance company. However, here we see only one RA and her only briefly but perhaps some the other people will show up in the next books