The Spare Man (Hardcover, 2022, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Hugo, Locus, and Nebula-Award winner Mary Robinette Kowal blends her no-nonsense approach to life in …

A stand-alone in her alternate universe

5 stars

This was relatively fun light reading in the same alternate timeline where an astroid hits Earth right after WW2 and we immediately make the jump to space. We get rich heiresses, famous detectives, a ship traveling between Earth and Mars as a “locked room” and of course, plenty of murder and drama. It’s a Murder on the Orient Express/Death on the Nile in space kind of setup. Strong female lead, weird alternate technology that almost feels like Niven from the 1970’s, it’s all good fun!

I will be honest, I always end up reading Kowal’s stuff to see what crazy things she’s dreamed up for her alternate timeline more than because I absolutely love her writing. She still does far too much “inner voice of struggle” exposition, IMHO. But even with that, her vision of the future is also so fun that I always enjoy myself in spite if it. Hence the 4 of 5 ⭐️ not 5 of 5.

But if you’ve liked her stuff before or you want a good murder mystery in space, give it a shot! I’d say it’s worth the read.

(Also, if you ever want a more hard-boiled mystery set on the moon with IMHO better writing, try Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira.)