Lois McMaster Bujold, Author . Baen $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7434-3533-8

Those who have followed Bujold's superb far-future saga about the undersized and unorthodox warrior, Miles Vorkosigan, will heave a sigh of relief as our hero and his beloved Ekaterin enjoy wedded bliss (including looking at "baby pictures," i.e., a sperm fertilizing an egg) on a belated galactic honeymoon—until a diplomatic crisis intrudes. As a Barrayaran Imperial Auditor, Miles must look into a murder whose investigation is complicated by the boorish behavior of the Barrayaran military. When the case develops a host of new angles, Miles wonders, "How many angles can dance on the head of a pin?" A seemingly straightforward crime leads him to mass murder, kidnapping, hijacking, biological warfare and Cetagandan genetic politics, all on an orbital habitat of the quaddies (the genetically engineered four-armed humans introduced in the author's Nebula Award—winning Falling Free). Preventing interstellar war is a tough job, but fortunately Miles has his lady working beside him, in the best tradition of Nick and Nora Charles or Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. As usual, Bujold is adept at world-building and provides a witty, character-centered plot, full of exquisite grace notes such as the description of quaddie ballet (hint: four arms and no gravity make many things possible). Established fans will be thoroughly gripped and likely to finish the book in a single sitting. While this isn't the best place to start for new readers, they'll be helped by a concise chronology at the end that neatly sums up Miles's earlier adventures. (May)

FYI:Bujold has won four Hugo Awards for her Vorkosigan saga.

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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