This is the fifth book in the excellent Retrieval Artist science fiction –series. This time Miles Flint is one of the two main characters while DeRicci is very much a minor character. The other main character is Detective Nyquist. News reporter Ky Bowles has to also make tough decisions about her life.

Miles Flint has just gotten back from a long vacation which he took after the events of the previous books, Buried Deep. His office has been neglected and moon dust covers everything. Soon he receives a cry for help through his links. The person begging for Flint to help her is Flint’s mentor, Paloma who is a renowned Retrieval Artist. She taught Flint the value of avoiding all personal relationships and almost paranoid secrecy. Of course, Flint hurries to her apartment which is in a part of the Armstrong Dome where only the very rich live.

Once Flint arrives, he finds out that the police are already there. The detective in charge, Nyquist, questions Flint but allows him to see the crime scene. Paloma had been brutally murdered and Flint is, of course, shocked. He also finds out that there is some sort of biological goo in the apartment which might be contagious. That’s kept quiet, though.

Flint heads back to his ship but decides to go into Paloma’s ship, the Dove in order to find any clues about her murderer. He knows that the police already thinks of him as a suspect because of his ties to Paloma and visiting the ship would only make him look more suspicious. However, inside the Dove Flint finds out the recording Paloma made for him before her death. The holoimage tells him a lot of things about Paloma which he never even suspected. Things that shock and disturb him deeply. He also finds out that Paloma left almost everything to him and the most important parts of his inheritance are files which Paloma doesn’t want to get into anyone else’s hands. Files that one of the biggest law firms on the Moon want desperately.

Nyquist has been assigned to solve the Paloma case. He knows that even if he can’t find the real culprit he has to find someone to blame it on. He doesn’t like that and is doing his best to really solve the case. Unfortunately, is seems that the case just gets more and more tangled the more information he digs up. Of course, he has a perfect scapegoat: Flint.

Nyquist is a loner. He’s been assigned a young partner who wants to do everything by the book which only irritates Nyquist more. He’s also aware of his growing attraction to Security Chief DeRicci.

After her previous big story centered on DeRicci, Ky Bowles was demoted. She is looking for her next big scoop which might get her career back. However, she gets something totally different. She is hanging around the yachts which are owned by the richest people and so her links are down. Her boss tries to contact her but can’t and she misses out reporting about Paloma’s death. So she’s fired. She has to evaluate her life again and what she wants from it.

This book has all of the superb characterization and multiple point of views that previous books had, too. However, Paloma feels a bit more disjointed. Bowles’ story isn’t really connected to Paloma’s death, DeRicci is seen less than before, and Nyquist seems to take DeRicci’s place. Also, Flint has been a suspect in previous stories but has always been cleared of them so that feels a bit repetitive. However, overall the story is again a delightful feast of science fiction and detective story. All of the people have their own goals and agendas which aren’t compatible. Although some of the lawyers might qualify as evil. 😉

However, there was no major alien influence this time. I sort of missed that.

I’m very interested to find out which direction Rusch intends to take the characters. It seems to me that DeRicci might drop out of the series completely. While she has certainly deserved more happiness in her life, I’d hate for her to become a housewife and Flint to continue his adventures. Because in this book Flint gets so much information that it’s bound to keep him busy for a long time to come. I also wouldn’t mind seeing some other characters in the same universe.