cover image Denver Moon

Denver Moon

Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola. Hex, $18.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-9986667-2-3

Hammond and Hex owner Viola, known for stories about dark futures and people in extreme places, turn their talents to a near-future novella about a private investigator on Mars who stumbles onto a threat to all humankind. Denver Moon’s life on Mars is gritty to begin with, and it gets increasingly dangerous after she receives a recorded warning from her grandfather. She thought he had been dead for 20 years, but the recording says he’s alive somewhere out on the Martian surface. She discovers he carried potentially world-destroying knowledge that Mars’s most powerful people want kept secret at all costs. This taut, action-packed mystery lures readers in with Denver’s determination to find her grandfather—which leads to her gathering unexpected allies and powerful enemies—and then lands gut punches as Denver peels away each surprising and grim layer of misdirection. The unveiling of Mars’s deepest mystery feels contrived, but that flaw is balanced by how brutal its effects are on Denver. Her world receives an effective bare-bones portrayal, and Hammond and Viola give her the depth and strength to be a page-turning match for every confrontation. This novella is recommended for all fans of speculative mysteries. (June)