New Far-Future Adventure from Jack McDevitt; Fast-Paced Novel Is the Fourth in His Alex Benedict Series

Article excerpt


Alex Benedict is chasing ghosts instead of antiques. He's haunted by the unknown past of a woman who sent him a holographic message that cryptically pleads for help, "I'm in over my head. . . . They're all dead."

Who is dead, why, and where?

That's what Brunswick, Ga., science fiction author Jack McDevitt wants us to find out in his latest title, The Devil's Eye, a fast-paced novel that takes us past the stars to a planet so remote it takes weeks to get there.

McDevitt introduced readers to Alex and his business partner and starship pilot Chase Kolpath in 1989's Talent for War. A very nosy guy living in the world of Rimway, Alex's job is to head into the great beyond with Chase at the wheel on salvage missions. They look for antiquities and treasures to sell. Alex's quests have led him into trouble, and involved him in a war.

The Devil's Eye, the fourth in the Alex Benedict series, starts with a live video broadcast that ends suddenly from the remote planet of Salud Afar.

On the edge of known space, Salud Afar, was once ruled by an autocratic dictator with secret police.

When Alex receives the "I'm over my head" message from Vicki Greene, a prolific writer of horror stories, Alex and Chase investigate. They discover that soon after a trip to Salud Afar, Greene asked that her mind be wiped clean of all memories.

What could have driven her to do that?

McDevitt likes to switch narrators in the Alex novels. The antique seeker did the talking in Talent for War, and Chase was the voice in Polaris.

This time, Chase seems to be writing a memoir. She and Alex become detectives on Salud Afar, where Chase does ghost-hunting of her own, finding all the haunted places Greene visited. She and Alex learn more as they uncover things that led Greene to seek a modified memory.

The result is a book that has more ghost hunters than an Indiana Jones adventure, with twists that reveal secret after secret. …