Far-future Mr. Fix-it gets into hot water—a familiar Modesitt (The Eternity Artifact, 2005, etc.) scenario here given a trudging workout.
By day, ex-military special operative and narrator Blaine Donne solves business problems and earns large fees; by night, he stalks the back streets of Thurene on planet Devanta, righting small wrongs for free. Suddenly, commissions arrive in a bunch. A wealthy widow wants Donne to investigate her granddaughter’s betrothed, a research doctor she suspects of being a closeted gay. A beautiful lady with no apparent identity wants him to uncover connections between creepy entrepreneur Legaar Eloi, obsessive city planner Judeon Maraniss—another, less frequent narrator—and “Elysium,” whatever that may be. Another client wishes to locate an elusive missing heiress. A case of copyright infringement crops up. Seemingly, the cases are unrelated. However, Eloi and Maraniss operate from a country estate that possesses a huge, hidden power source—but to what end? Donne solicits help from his high-powered elder sister Krij, a corporate-compliance expert. Eloi and Maraniss may be conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow Devanta’s benevolent oligarchy, the Civitas Sorores. Donne resolves the wealthy widow case (he isn’t gay, she is; neither cares) but learns nothing of Elysium except to suspect that his mysterious respondent is a Sorores agent. Finally, the Sorores lose patience with Donne and make their requirements explicit: It seems that he must come out of retirement.
Some brisk action closes the proceedings, but otherwise, mediocre problems and solutions—our hero has little idea how to Google for information and spends most of his time asking his friends for gossip.