Science-fiction detective yarn set in a medium-future Boston literally crawling with weird aliens: Smith's hardcover debut. Twenty-first-century Boston has been the site of momentous events: alien contact (involving dozens of species) and the establishment of an interstellar portal, the US government's challenge of Boston's subsequent monopoly of interstellar trade, a dreadful siege followed by independence from the US in all but name. Physically, the city has become a gigantic enclosed cube, outside of which most residents never venture. Now, Diana, the adopted daughter of City Operator Iris Sherwood, has gone missing; Sherwood calls in private detective Beverley O'Meara and her partner, Akktri, a furry alien Phner. Despite her misgivings (Beverley blames Sherwood for the death of her father during the Siege), Beverley takes the job—and immediately earns the enmity of persons high up in the Boston power structure; she learns that what seemed to be a case of kidnap and blackmail actually hinges on a mother/daughter love/hate relationship. In resolving the case, Beverley gains new insights into her Phner partner and his alien motivations. Hard-working, inventive, and colorful, but also uncontrolled- -with far too many different aliens, improbable sleuthing, and a general air of futuristic soap opera.
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