In Booker’s (King Slayer, 2004) sci-fi murder mystery, a police officer looks into the savage death of a teleporter inventor.
In the mid-22nd century, Global Inspector Burt Campbell investigates a bloody scene—the scattered remains of Dr. Jiro Yamamoto. Campbell’s suspects include Penelope, Yamamoto’s personal assistant; relatives of death-row inmates who’ve died during the doctor’s teleporter tests; and the global military, which has a huge investment in the device, and wants to take control of it. Campbell also contends with a dodgy supercomputer, missing prisoners and corpses that appear to be coming back to life. Booker depicts intriguing, advanced technology, including a Central Police Computer that collects IDs and fingerprints by scanning a roomful at a time, without overshadowing the central plot. It’s almost a letdown when Campbell solves the murder near the halfway mark, but the novel maintains interest with mysteries involving Penelope—the only person to complete the teleportation process without becoming a raving lunatic—and Bohdan, an escaped prisoner who wants to see the inspector dead. Despite its lurid, colorful descriptions of massacres—“Blood and gore were the new décor”—the novel is unexpectedly docile: a scene in which body parts swirl around a room is more tongue-in-cheek than violent, there’s little abrasive language, and Campbell’s relationship with Penelope is portrayed more as a schoolyard crush than a physical yearning. But the novel’s choicest scenes involve Campbell’s four Alaskan Malamutes, which resemble large, furry wolves. (Dog lovers will swoon over the dogs’ “chocolate-brown eyes” and wet kisses.) The inspector indisputably adores his dogs; he dotes on them more than he does Penelope, and he’s upset whenever he has to leave them. It’s not surprising that they ultimately aid Campbell’s search for Bohdan.
A triumphant intermingling of the sci-fi and mystery genres.