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POLARIS by Jack McDevitt

POLARIS

By Jack McDevitt

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-441-01202-7
Publisher: Ace/Berkley

Another space mystery for antiquarian sleuths to resolve (Chindi, 2002, etc.), this time involving relic dealer Alex Benedict and his beautiful pilot/assistant, narrator Chase Kolpath.

Space yacht Polaris, with a small, select group of celebrities aboard, observed the spectacle of an ordinary sun being ripped apart by a superdense neutron star. Hours later, pilot Maddy English reported the ship on its way home—but it never arrived. A rescue vessel found Polaris adrift, power and systems intact, its Artificial Intelligence switched off—and devoid of human presence. Despite an intensive investigation, the mystery was never resolved. Sixty years later, artifacts from the still-mysterious ship go on sale. Alex manages to grab a couple; a handful of others are distributed before a bomb, apparently intended to assassinate a nasty local dictator, destroys the rest. A burglary at Alex’s house, ostensibly a theft, actually allowed the perpetrator to handle a blouse that once belonged to Maddy English. Becoming intrigued, Alex discovers that others connected with the vanished passengers also disappeared under unexplained circumstances. Someone else, probably Alex’s burglar, shows great interest in the remaining Polaris artifacts—a person at pains to conceal his real identity. Still others connected with the investigation turn out to have no identifiable past. And when Alex and Chase persist, someone attempts to kill them. One of the vanished passengers was a leading immortality researcher; others were active members of a society dedicated to preventing overpopulation: but what's the connection?

A competently wrought but rather pallid adventure for a sleuthing duo that could have used personality transplants; the whole thing reads like a long-abandoned, recently refurbished draft.