cover image Odd Girl Out

Odd Girl Out

Timothy Zahn, . . Tor, $24.95 (379pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1733-9

Mysterious deaths, encounters with oddly named aliens, chases and shootouts form a skeleton of a story that never quite gets fleshed out in Zahn's weak third Frank Compton adventure. Former spy and planet-hopping PI Compton, worn out by the events of 2007's The Third Lynx , gets home to find a woman in his apartment. She needs help rescuing her little sister, Rebekah, from the group mind that Compton just got back from battling. After he turns her down in classic cynical-hero fashion, she's promptly killed. Compton, framed for the crime, acquires a new identity and heads off to find Rebekah with the assistance of “ex-Marine ex-bounty hunter” Bruce McMicking. The usual sort of mayhem leads to Rebekah's rescue, the discovery of her secret and a classic confrontation/explanation scene with the mastermind, who asks, “How did you learn this?” Clumsy back-references and a blatant setup for the next book will thoroughly discourage new readers. (Sept.)