A bistro owner and amateur sleuth tries solving the murder of a fellow restaurateur in Kingon’s (Chocolate Chocolate Moons, 2012) zany sci-fi mystery.
Molly’s Bistro, owned by Earthling Molly Marbles, is doing well in Mars’ capital of New Chicago. Virtual Vittles, a virtual-reality restaurant, has opened nearby, but when its dining experience leaves customers hungry, they make a beeline for Molly’s place. She and Virtual Vittles owner Rick Frances eventually collaborate on a dining event; unfortunately, it ends with Rick found dead at Molly’s Bistro. Molly, who previously helped detectives solve a different mystery, works the murder case, slyly interrogating her staff and others who attended the event. But she’s already got a lot on her plate, including her pop-star daughter Becky’s upcoming wedding as well as the recent escape of the Cereal Serial Killer, which may have been incited by the bistro’s planned cereal-inspired party. As Molly makes headway in her investigation, someone slips her a threatening note warning her off the case. She later heads to Mercury in search of a poison that may have been the murder weapon and exposes secret affairs and other possible motives. The novel’s setting is indisputably unorthodox for a detective tale. Several descriptions compare Mars and Earth, noting, for example, that one still needs sunglasses on the red planet, even if the sun is further away. Likewise, there are silly but generally amusing plays on familiar names, such as that of Becky’s fiance, Burton Ernie. However, Molly’s personal life often overshadows the mystery plotline, which skimps on details; a bloodless death, for example, is determined to be a murder prior to any autopsy. The overall timeline is also confusing; at one point, for instance, Molly says the murder was “last week” despite the fact that several weeks have passed. Kingon adds some depth to the story, though, when Molly’s best friend Jersey’s android husband, Trenton, encounters discrimination. What exactly a “human android” is, however, remains unclear, as does the process that transforms humans into androids. The main mystery is resolved in the end, but readers may find themselves more invested in seeing whether Molly will be able to pull off the wedding ceremony.
An undeniably fun tale with a protagonist who can apparently handle anything despite the fact that the mystery is often put on the back burner.