Like the portions of pasta, chocolate and wine that figure heavily in the diet of retired spy--now amateur chef and university professor--Johan Eschbach and his diva wife, Llysette, too many themes weigh down the fragile story line of Modesitt's new installment in the couple's battle with evil bureaucracy in a contemporary alternative North America. Eschbach's singular expertise with the ""ghost technology"" introduced in Of Tangible Ghosts now involves him and Llysette in dastardly plotting among the nations of New France, Mormon-dominated Deseret and Dutch-settled Columbia, all scheming to replace their steam-driven economies with syn-fueled military might. Intriguing ethical issues of ghost raising and zombie-izing seem to evaporate here, because Modesitt gets bogged down in environmentalism, two-career marriage angst, the eternal professorial woes of apathetic students and conniving administrators and the perils of an alternative Latter Day Saint theocracy. Too dependent on its predecessor for the comfort of new readers, Eschbach's current adventure is flavored minimally with science, limited chiefly to dirigibles and Stanley Steamers, while Llysette's pseudo-French dialogue (""Little she holds back"") is as cloying as too much Bearnaise. All told, Modesitt reveals little that's new or savory here. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998 Release date: 09/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-16672-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-8125-4536-4
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