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Deadfall

The Bernice Summerfield Adventures (Virgin) #6
Kevin McNair

Jason Kane, Benny's ex-husband, is back, and of course trouble follows him like a groupie follows the Grateful Dead. He's heard rumours about a legendary lost planet and he feels confident that Benny has the key to the whole place. So naturally, not wanting to bother her (they don't get on that well, you know), he, uh, sort of...borrows it, along with one of her archeology students, and heads off to the planet in question.

Said planet seems to be most elusive and dangerous. It turns a nine-planet star system into a ten-planet star system overnight. It apparently inspires two crewman of an exploratory vessel to sabotage the ship, kill the rest of the crew, and lie in wait for their partners. However, these two get killed by the end of the first chapter by a sort of bio-collective.

One interesting tidbit of this mishmash: the return of Christopher Cwej, another ex-companion of He Whose Name...yeah yeah yeah. He seems to have lost his memory, which is a blatant device for the author get around Auntie Beeb and the Guardians of Copyright. Chris is stuck in a suspended-animation capsule for the first half, and then runs around saying "I can't remember" for the other.

The situation (and the story) spirals downward from there, with exploding heads, gangs of convicted female criminals roaming around, and the bio-collective taking over and trying to take over half the supporting cast.

Like I said, a mishmash. This book is certainly not Russell's best work, a far cry from The Scales of Injustice and Legacy. Still, some engaging dialogue here and there save this book from the resale bin. 4 out of 10.