Recovery Man by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. ★★★1/2
Recovery Man is the sixth novel in Rusch’s science fiction mystery series following Retrieval Artist Miles Flint. The premise of the series is as follows: human governments have signed treaties with alien governments mandating that humans be tried under alien laws for crimes committed on alien planets. But some of the punishments or “crimes” are completely, well, alien to humans, so a burgeoning industry of Disappearance Services hides human offenders from alien justice systems. Miles Flint, a former police officer, is a Retrieval Artist, someone who works for the families of the Disappeared, who will try to contact them without blowing their aliases.
While you could theoretically start with Recovery Man, I wouldn’t. It’s not the best book in the series, and the plotline is weaker than some of the others. Try the first book, The Disappeared.
On a company colony on Callisto, Rhonda Shindo is kidnapped by a Recovery Man, leaving her thirteen year old daughter Talia on her own, along with a big revelation regarding her past. Meanwhile, Miles Flint is searching through the old files on his mentor Paloma’s computer when he stumbles onto information with a critical tie to his own past.
Basically, Recovery Man is an exploration of Miles’s backstory. Yes, I know, I thought we would have a handle on everything after six books, but Recovery Man does mine new ground. Partly related to this, Noelle DeRicci, probably the second most significant character in the series, actually didn’t appear here. I missed her, but I don’t see how she would have fit in anyway.
While it didn’t have any trouble getting me to keep turning the pages, Recovery Man did end up feeling a bit lacking. In retrospect, Miles didn’t actually do a whole lot in his sections. Same goes for Talia after the initial excitement of her mother’s kidnapping. Really, Rhonda’s desperate escape attempts were the majority of the action in the novel.
There were also quirks of Rusch’s writing style that annoyed me at times. It seemed like she spent too much time stating the obvious, often for the purpose of dramatic ending lines to chapters. Are all of her books like this, or am I only just now noticing it?
Regardless, I’m still willing to read more since I like the stories and characters. Unfortunately one of my favorite things about the series – the aliens – didn’t have a huge role in this installment, but I can hold out hopes for future books.