Small Press Book Review: A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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A-Murder-of-Clones-ebook-cover-webA Murder of Clones
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
Trade paper, 380 pgs., $18.99
Ebook $5.99
Audio $24.95

The third volume in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Anniversary Day Saga, A Murder of Clones, went on sale at the end of January. I’ve reviewed the first two volumes here (Anniversary Day) and at one of my blogs (Blowback). A Murder of Clones creates a different set of characters who will play a major role in the story. The people in this novel aren’t on the Moon when the Anniversary Day bombings take place.

To recap for those who might not be familiar with the scenario, there was an attempt to blow up Armstrong Dome on the Moon four years ago. The anniversary of that event is called Anniversary Day. (Nobody said the people of the future have to come up with imaginative names for things.) In Anniversary Day the book, there’s a major terrorist attack on Anniversary Day four years after the original bombing. The bombers are a group of clones that shouldn’t exist.

It’s illegal for clones to be made from the DNA of mass murderers. These clones are of one of the most notorious mass murderers in humanity’s history. He founded and then wiped out three colonies before he was caught. (Think Jim Jones surviving Jonestown and repeating the massacre twice and you’ll have some idea of the significance of this guy in Rusch’s universe.) All samples of his DNA were supposed to have been destroyed. It appears some slipped through the cracks.

Blowback takes place six months later and expands the threat in a mind boggling way. That’s all I’m going to tell you. I’m not giving away the big twists in that story.

A Murder of Clones opens fifteen years before Anniversary Day. Marshall Judita Gomez is an Earth Alliance Frontier Marshall who is called in to investigate a series of murders by a group of aliens who aren’t members of the Alliance. What she discovers is a group of dead clones, hardly in their teens, who were murdered by other clones. One has escaped and sought sanctuary with the aliens. Guess who they’re clones of?

The case is concluded (spoilers, remember?), although Gomez isn’t exactly happy with how things are resolved. Now skip forward to just after the Anniversary Day bombings. When she and others of her team see the video of the bombers, they know something has gone seriously wrong. They set out on their own to investigate.

Meanwhile, attorney Torkild Zhu, a survivor of the Anniversary Day bombings, is trying to get a clone released from a maximum security facility. He believes the clone was illegally imprisoned. What he doesn’t realize is that no good deed goes unpunished.

A Murder of Clones is almost a stand-alone novel. I say almost, because there is one character who showed up 15 years later in Blowback. If you’ve not read that book, you’ll miss the significance of who they are. None of the other characters from the first two books put in an appearance, although several are mentioned in passing. Aside from that one character, it’s possible to start the series at this point and go back and pick up the earlier books later. I would suggest reading them in order, though.

Rusch pulls off another taught thriller with A Murder of Clones. This series just keeps expanding in scope. It’s a science fiction epic that pulls out all the stops. Not all writers could pull off something like this. Rusch is one of those who has the chops to do so.

As in the other books, we get a good look inside the characters’ heads. While Gomez and Zhu are the two principal viewpoint characters, there are others. The pacing is swift, and the dialogue and action scenes move things along.  The suspense mounts, and there are a number of twists.

Of course there are unanswered questions. This is only the third book of eight. I do hope Rusch explains how the clone who escaped in the opening section learned how to speak the aliens’ language.

This is one of my favorite series. I started the fourth volume, Search and Recovery, the night I finished A Murder of Clones. I rarely read two books from the same series back to back. I usually like to take a break. Not this time. Check this series out.

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