cover image The Spare Man

The Spare Man

Mary Robinette Kowal. Tor, $19.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-82917-7

An engineering magnate gets swept into a murder investigation in this vibrant space mystery from Kowal (the Lady Astronaut series). Communications scion Tesla Crane and her new husband, retired detective Shal Steward, take their honeymoon on a luxury spaceship en route to Mars under assumed identities to avoid publicity. When Shal witnesses the murder of the ultra-wealthy Haldan Kuznetsova’s assistant, George, Shal becomes the ship’s retrograde security team’s prime suspect, leaving Tesla and Shal determined to catch the real killer. Their sleuthing grows complicated, however, as promising leads crumble, suspects get murdered, and Tesla’s true identity gets out. Meanwhile, Tesla struggles to cope with her trauma from a lab accident years prior that killed six colleagues and left her in chronic pain. Kowal expertly weaves in red herrings and twists right up to the unmasking of the killer, and punctuates the suspense with moments of sparkling wit and the antics of Tesla’s therapy dog, Gimlet. The author’s nuanced portrayal of Tesla’s disabilities and the complexities of the technology that assists her to navigate them is particularly welcome. This is a page-turner. (Oct.)