Nov 192014
Review: The Ultra Thin ManThe Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson
Published by Tor on Aug 12, 2014
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover from Giveaway Prize
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’s and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?

I’m rather on the fence about this book. On one hand, this an intricate conspiracy story set on multiple planets with aliens and duel narration. On the other hand, the narrators are so identical they’re almost interchangeable and the world building is woeful low on details.

Breaking it down, looking at characters first. The story is narrated by two old-school private investigators in alternating chapters. One has a first person narrative while the other has a third person narrative. That’s about the only difference between them. Other than that, the characters are super similar. At times, I found the only way to decipher whose chapter it was involved looking at the verb tense used. Not good.

Regarding the world building, the main thing I enjoy about space-centric stories is the ability to create anything. In this case, every world was very Earth-like, and the details of everything were rather unexplained. There was very little space-feel to the story. The whole thing could have taken place on Earth, and it would have changed nothing.

The plot itself had some interesting twists and turns to it. I like conspiracy stories, and this one had several layers to it. I wasn’t able to guess everything that would happen, which is good.

Overall, this book had a classic detective story feel, with a modern space adventure setting. Unfortunately, I don’t think everything meshed well together, and it left me feeling rather ambivalent towards the book.

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