Xenopath by Eric Brown (Bengal Station #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vaughan is a happy man, married to Sukara and with a child on the way. Working for a telepathic detective agency, Vaughan investigates a series of murders linked to the colony world of Mallory, and the slaughter of innocent aliens there by a colonial organization. But not only does the investigation put his own life in danger, but back on Bengal Station Sukara’s life is threatened too.
As with any story from Eric Brown, this Bengal Station story is pure fun. It's made up of some of my favorite sci-fi tropes, these being a future Earth, cool tech, faster-than-light space travel, distant planet colonies and wonderful alien creatures. I love this stuff, and Brown uses them to produce a kind of 'pulp sci-fi' feel which I absolutely love. His are the sort of easy-reading adventure stories that lend themselves to pure escapism, getting lost in an engaging story that moves along at a really nice pace and is wonderfully entertaining to boot.
In Xenopath, we again follow telepath Jeff Vaughan, our main character, and the story picks up his life on Bengal Station a couple of years after the events of Necropath, which is the preceding book in the series. Vaughan is again working as a telepath but this time for a private investigation agency, where he gets mixed up in the questionable affairs of a corporation who administer Mallory, a colony planet many light-years from Earth. Something strange is happening on Mallory and people are being killed to safeguard it's secrets and Vaughan vows to get to the bottom of it all. What ensues is a cool adventure that kept me interested right through.
The characters are interesting and developed well enough for the purposes of the story, but I can just hear some complaining about the 'shallow' or 'one-dimensional' characters. I disagree wholeheartedly, because it's a short and sweet book where Brown manages to show us just enough of the players in the story, as well as a nice look at a far away planet and alien species that are central to the plot. I'm withholding the fifth star from my rating only because I did find the plot a tad predictable, not enough to ruin any part of the book, but just enough to take the edge off it. It's like the author dropped little clues into the story a bit soon and had me figuring the plot quite early on.
However, I still enjoyed the yarn immensely, and I recommend this book to any fan of Eric Brown or lover of fun stories. My usual quip here: Once again, Brown fails to disappoint.
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