Ace, Mar 2009, $25.95
In 2350 on Coyote, convicted of killing his abusive dad, former convict Hawk Thompson lives a bland lifestyle trying to stay out of trouble. The parolee earns a civil servant wage as a customs inspector at the spaceport, but has no goal to try anything else as the crime treatment therapy washed away his oomph for life; besides which he knows if he raises his voice an iota, the drug filled patch on his skin will produce a paralyzing affect. However, Hawk cannot stay out of an incident in which he helps hooker Melissa Sanchez. Soon afterward, the Customs Department upper management selects Hawk as their agent in a meeting with the enigmatic alien species the Hjadd who have a nearby embassy on the orb. He begins to understand their customs and soon with Melissa accompanying him, Hawk begins a quest.
Meanwhile Sawyer Lee leads several European on a hunt for deadly avian; at the same time a Navaho Shaman Joseph Walking Sky Cassidy, hired by Morgan Goldstein to watch over his horses, vanished in an unexplored area. Morgan informs Sawyer he is worried about the missing shaman he hired who is addicted to the drug sting. Sawyer leads a missing person’s search unaware that Hawk and Joseph have met in the wilderness.
Though filled with plenty of action, this is a deep thought provoking entry in the Coyote saga as Allen Steele makes clear the inanity of prejudice limiting who can enter the tent as superior humans know their race is in God’s image while the Lord obviously rejects the Hjadd. Interestingly, the founders have started to give up power to their descendents as five decades have past since the first colonization began; thus a new horizon begins with the passing of authority. That profound depth aside, this is a strong science fiction thriller that follows Hawk, changes direction to Sawyer and Joseph, and ultimately brings the trio together in a winner that the Coyote universe fans will immensely relish while waiting for the sequel.