A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The real McCoy

Remember the scene near the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where Admiral Kirk is mildly depressed and Dr. McCoy encourages him to get back his command of the Enterprise? That scene is recounted at the beginning of this engaging little story, where it gets McCoy thinking of an emotional crisis of his own way back when.

The bulk of this Kindle novella (probably about a hundred pages long if it ever appeared in print form) describes an early adventure of McCoy's on the remote planet of Capella IV, where McCoy and his medical colleagues study and interact with a primitive humanoid species, with the aim of trying to secure permission from the tribe's leaders for the Federation to mine a needed ore from the planet. The Prime Directive, politics, and a "needs of the many versus the needs of the few" situation all conspire to create a personal and professional crisis for McCoy, which he recounts to Mr. Spock years later after his meeting with the depressed Kirk.

As I said, this is an engaging little story, with interesting details about the alien race, decent banter and interactions among the Starfleet personnel, and even some saucy humor involving the alien race's mating rituals. The story's conclusion depends a little on being familiar with how things eventually worked out for Kirk in Star Trek II, but I suspect that 99 percent of the people who purchase this story will already be up to speed on that.

In the end, Michael A. Martin has written a crisp, entertaining novella that is true to the characters we know, and well worth the modest price being asked (something around three bucks at the time I purchased it).  I'll be on the lookout for more Star Trek tales from Mr.Martin.

Grave doings

After reading this book, it seemed to me that Robert Dugoni wasn't trying to re-invent the wheel with My Sister's Grave, but just wanted to deliver a rich, satisfying police thriller / mystery story. And that's exactly what he did.

Seattle police detective Tracy Crosswhite's younger sister Sarah had disappeared decades before in their old hometown of Cedar Grove, and though a body was never found, strong circumstantial evidence pointed to her murder, and a creepy local guy was eventually convicted for the crime. But now the body has been discovered, along with clues that suggest that the person convicted may have been framed for Sarah's murder.

With her ultimate aim being the identification of the real killer and bringing him to justice, Tracy works to get the case reopened. But she can't do that until the original guy is exonerated and released from prison because of the shady procedures used to convict him. Tracy's efforts to do all that don't make her popular with the residents of Cedar Grove, who don't want the disturbing crime from their town's past getting all stirred up again.

Dugoni has a nice, readable style, skillfully mixing investigation, family dynamics, action, danger, and even a gentle romance as Tracy becomes close with the lawyer helping her with her case. Some of the story is revealed in flashbacks, which are skillfully integrated into the main flow of the story.

This is the first novel of Mr. Dugoni's that I've read, and I look forward to sampling another one of his books in the near future.