Odd Girl Out
Tor, Sep 2008, $24.95
Two hundred years into the future, following his harrowing but successful mission on the interstellar quadrail (see THE THIRD LYNX), gun for hire of the mysterious Spiders and their ever more enigmatic masters the Chahwyn; Frank Compton goes home to rest. However, upon entering his New York apartment, the former whistle blowing government agent turned mercenary is greeted by a woman with a gun who demands he work for her. Lorelei Beach explains her preadolescent sister Rebekah was kidnapped on New Tigris by the same Modhri agents he just defeated. He takes her gun and tells the gaunt woman to take a hike to the cops. He is on R&R and some kid is not one of his money making missions.
Four hours of sleep following the departure of a distraught Lorelei, NYPD Officer Bagler arrives at Frank’s apartment to escort him downtown as a handgun registered to him was involved in the murder of Lorelei; he is the prime suspect for obvious reasons. Frank feels some guilt and needs to clear his name as whoever framed him painted a masterpiece. He and retired Marine and former bounty hunter Bruce McMicking ride the Quadrail to rescue Rebekah and uncover who is the mastermind behind the murder of his “client”.
Compton’s latest futuristic science fiction hard boiled mystery (see NIGHT TRAIN TO RIGEL) is more personal than his previous efforts as he feels obligated to rescue the sister, but also does it as the first step to find proof that he did not kill Lorelei. When the story line focuses on Frank’s present fiasco, the action is fast-paced and never slows down as he and Bruce leave a trail of mayhem and death on the rails. However, when the plot uses the current mission to provide the back story, the tale turns sluggish and confusing especially to newcomers. Still a solid twenty third century Noir, fans will appreciate riding the Quadrail alongside Frank and Bruce.