Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zero Flux by Carol Van Natta #spaceopera #scifi #murder #mystery

Title: Zero Flux: Central Galactic Concordance, Novella 2.5
Author: Carol Van Natta
Genre: Space Opera/SF murder mystery
Publisher: Chavanch Press
Available: Kobo, B&N, Google Play, iBooks, Amazon (69 pages $0.99)
Rating: 4*
Rater: Pippa

A dangerous ice cave with a frozen crime scene, a secret lab, and the find of a lifetime—any one of them would be worth killing for... 

Luka Foxe and Mairwen Morganthur (Overload Flux) take on a very cold case, a secret lab, and the find of a lifetime. Which one of them is worth killing for? Forensic investigator Luka had gladly left his troubled past far behind, so only a plea from his old friend and mentor to investigate a violent crime scene frozen in an ice cave could have lured him back. Unfortunately, his old friend knows far more than he's telling, which could get them all killed, even with extraordinary security specialist Mairwen on their side. An unexpected icefall reveals a hidden lab buried deep in a mountain and the find of a lifetime. Now someone is trying to make sure those secrets stay frozen in time, even if it means more deaths..

What I liked:
Although I mistakenly took this mid-series side story to be a prequel, I didn't feel lost or out of depth. There was enough back story and strength of character for this to be read as a standalone/out of sequence story, though probably better read in its correct series order. I'm also a sucker for psi abilities/genetic and/or mechanical enhancements, so those elements in this novella had me hooked. The tech was a comfortable level for those who don't want a shedload of science but enough to interest me and leave me wanting more ie to read the other books.

What I didn't like:
Despite the MCs precarious position, the tension was lacking. I didn't really feel the full sense of danger and possibility of death. It also felt a touch abrupt/incomplete at the end but as part of a series I didn't have a huge problem with that particular issue.

In conclusion:
This is a murder mystery for fans of space opera along the lines of Star Trek/Farscape, and who like a reasonable level of tech but are willing to find their SciFi smexiness in the other books (since there was only a hint in this particular story). Also for those who like ice planets, and for those who want a quick SF mystery fix. While it can stand alone, I would probably recommend reading it in correct sequence.