A stand-alone SF book.

Publication year: 2002
Page count: 403
Format: print
Publisher: Aspect

Lee Enfield is a forensic lanthanomancer; she serves Justice directly and can see what is True about places and people. She’s also a freelancer prosecutor and, when her cases demand it, a detective. Her long-time business partner and best friend is Gelert, who is madrín, he looks like large white wolfhound who can talk. Together, their office solves crimes and becoming quite famous at it. Unfortunately, Lee used to date Assistant District Attourney Matt, who is still their boss when they do freelance work for the DA. Their relationship isn’t easy.

Lee and Gelert live in an alternate, high-tech Earth where the people have discovered other alternate Earths and gating between them is commonplace. They even have a five world Interpol to catch world-hopping criminals and the Five World Geneva Pact as law.

When an Alfen is killed in Lee’s Earth, she’s called in to investigate it. However, when she and Gelert start to work on the case, they find out startling facts and are targeted by their opponent.

Lee’s world is high-tech; her house is voice-activated and has entire comwalls for communication. She also has an implant that serves two functions: she can silently communicate with Gelert and she can also record things she Sees with her psychic senses. Teleportation, or gating, is a favorite way to travel from place to place on Earth, and apparently the only way to move between worlds. The gating technology depends on fairy gold which only Alfhaim produces. So the Alfen, or Elves as they are often called, are important people. The various universes have also aliens who are mentioned but not seen much.

I was highly amused by the descriptions of the Alfen. They are immortal, or rather unaging, and very beautiful. They look as humans should look but don’t or can’t. This makes other people jealous, sad, or even angry, and they sometimes lash out against the Alfen. The Alfen are also rather insular and arrogant people. Their world looks also the way that things should look and when humans go there the sight of building alone can make them cry. The Alfen discourage tourism.

Lee herself is a very engaging main character. She loves her job, Justice, and wants to the best work she can. About a month ago she found out that Matt was cheating on her and broke off their relationship. She’s still hurting a lot. She’s somewhat impulsive, which is a good trait in a main character.

Her partner, Gelert, was great! He’s smart mouthed but also acts are the voice of reason, when that is called for. He’s also an experienced investigator and equal with Lee. He’s also happily married and has puppies, which was great. In essence, this is a buddy book without a romance.

Most of the rest of the characters are well rounded. Matt who is selfish but can be apologetic when it’s pointed out of him. He’s ambitious but can still be uncomfortable when he’s sending his ex-girlfriend in to danger. His boss, who is a politician (slimy) and steals others’ glory. Lee is briefly assigned a bodyguard who stubbornly does his job as best he can, even when it makes Lee uncomfortable. The Alfen weren’t as well developed.

I found it a bit strange that the case investigator is also the prosecutor. Isn’t that giving a bit too much power to the prosecution? Or is the defense using similar investigators? If so, they aren’t seen. Or perhaps the idea is that since the investigator is working directly to Justice and will record everything in her implant, the evidence can’t be faked? Or that they wouldn’t be able to withhold any evidence? I’m a bit dubious about that, since we are dealing with humans, after all.

We don’t get much information about the other Earths which is a shame. I was fascinated by Mithgarth’s description which included a winter where the (local?) gods warred amongst themselves and drew any mortals on the planet into the conflict, too. Most of the locals made a point not to be on the planet then. I also really enjoyed the concept of Justice in person who shows up to judge the guilty. On the other hand, there’s already a lot of world-information to absorb.

Near the end of the book, the characters go to a newly discovered world which I suspect is our own Earth and find out some disturbing things about it. Sadly, I think they are right.

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