Publisher: Roc, 2008
Genre: Science fiction
Rating: 4 pints of blood
Is it just me, or does she look a bit bobble-headed? Maybe it's just her waifish figure throwing me off when I expect a chick so clearly looking forward to kicking people in the head to have a little muscle on her with which to do the actual kicking. At least she's got a big, awesome looking gun.
Peacekeeper came out just a few weeks ago as Reeve's debut novel. Sci-fi with a female protagonist written by a new female author? Any of the above would catch my attention, so when I saw the combination, it was an instant grab for me.
Fifteen years ago, the Autonomists and the Terrans signed a diplomatic treaty, putting an end to the vicious war between them, but not before a small Autonomist force released a devastating weapon at a Terran sun, possibly wiping out an entire solar system. More than four billion people lived in that distant solar system, and none of the people involved or responsible for the (technically illegal) attack on it were punished.
Until now. Systematically, each of the members of the team that released the weapon are being found and murdered, despite the Autonomist military having created new identities, faces, and lives for each of them. The people who are dying were following orders, unaware of what the consequences would be, and they haven't been tried or sentenced because the info hasn't come in yet as to the extent of the damages. Someone has decided the wait has been long enough, but nobody's sure who or how.
Which is when the Autonomist military calls in Ariane. Most of the time, she's a pilot for a civilian prospecting ship, exploring the unknown regions of space with her business partner, Matt. Occasionally, though, she's called in on reserve for the military for special operations, about which everyone keeps very mysterious. Even Matt doesn't know quite what it is Ariane does on these missions or why she keeps taking them. This time, she's put directly in the assassin's path as she tries to figure out who's taking vengeance for old war crimes while trying to keep the list of potential victims alive. The official story, of course, is that she's merely an Intelligence officer along for the ride.
Meanwhile Nestor, Matt's friend and the source of all his legal and illegal information gathering is also murdered. Matt has no idea why, but it quickly becomes clear he's also in danger, and all of this may have something to do with Ariane...
Reeve has lots of fun with her characterization. The book is full of strong characters who have interesting weaknesses. Ariane is smart, tough, and understands (and even abides by) her limitations; she's also a functioning alcoholic haunted by her past. Matt is loyal, passionate, and fiercely intelligent; he's also agrophobic and has serious trust issues. Even the secondary characters are more complex than they seem at first sight. (I was particularly fond of Sergeant Joyce.)
The attention to detail with the inner workings of the Autonomist military, their dealings with outsiders (both civilians and aliens), and the relationships between crew members made Peacekeeper stand out from some of the other military sf offerings out there. This isn't just an excuse to shoot aliens on a distant planet, it's a complex system of routines, rules, and friendships forged under life and death circumstances.
Peacekeeper has an intricately layered plot, which at first was a little difficult to get into, but once I got a handle on how some of the different backstories fit in together, it went by pretty quickly. Lots of action, lots of intrigue, just a hint of potential romance, and a nifty plot twist near the end of the book all adds up a very satisfying read.