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Carrie Vaughn. HMH/Adams, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-94730-6

In this competent postapocalyptic mystery—linked to a short story first published in the launch issue of John Joseph Adams’s magazine Lightspeed, which makes this a fitting launch title for his eponymous imprint—two investigators are called upon to determine whether a sudden death was an accident or murder, but their efforts stir up secrets and uncomfortable emotions. In the population-controlled society of the Coast Road, murder is extremely rare, almost unthinkable, and Enid of Haven is determined to get to the heart of the matter no matter what. However, when she encounters a familiar face from her past, she is forced to reflect on her younger days and lost love, and to seriously consider her future. Vaughn (Martians Abroad) skillfully portrays a vastly altered future America that’s almost unrecognizable decades after its total collapse; the reversion to a much less technological setting is a common element for the genre, but her focus on sustainability and responsibility is unusual, thought-provoking, and very welcome. The murder mystery is balanced by a heavy emotional core focused on the importance of families. Unfortunately, the numerous flashbacks rob the story of its urgency, making this less powerful than it could have been. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (July)