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The Reading Jackalope

In the Black

In the Black - Sheryl Nantus The book starts out well enough, our heroine Sam is the captain of a pleasure ship full of courtesans (think a ship full of Inaras) who is also running from a terrible past of some kind. Our hero is of the Texas Ranger lone wolf cop good guy trope. There is a murder aboard the pleasure ship and the two must work together to figure out who done it. It’s a sci-fi/murder mystery/romance mash-up, and really just sounds like it should be a fun read. I thought each genre was mostly given it’s due, with romance being the heavily favored genre. But the sci-fi details were fun, and the mystery was more then just a contrivance to throw the two characters together. There’s enough world-building here to make me think the author has more in store for future books then just throwing characters together for hot sex in space.

My problems with the book started pretty early, but were generally minor nit-picky writing things that I could have brushed over if the rest of the book had been decent. Things like, why does a book published in 2014 have paperback books on a ship where space is so limited that the mechanic is specifically mentioned as only being allowed to have three changes of clothing? If the book had been published in the 90s I could have bought it as amusing past-future tech problems, but electronic books were well established by 2014. Small details like this really throw and annoy me. There were other things, for example I’m not sure the author really understood that dialogue is something the characters hear not see. There’s an exchange where Daniel (our hero) is talking about his AI and calls it ‘Etts’. Sam (our Heroine) asks about ‘ET’, as though she’d seen it written and not just heard him say ‘Etts’. He even corrects her and says, ‘It’s pronounced Etts, actually’. It’s just such poor writing that it annoyed me.

However the moment I gave up on the book was just after the two characters met. They were going over the murder scene with the dead person’s body in the next ‘room’, and flirting so heavily that I had a hard time remembering they were supposedly investigating a murder. The characters thoughts turn to sex so often and so easily that it felt more like they were young teenagers rather then adults. It got a little ridiculous. And things continued on in that vein for far too long. I understand this is a romance novel, but if you’re going to investigate a murder, maybe that should be your priority rather then the abs of your counterpart.

I don’t think this is a terrible book, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ll be giving the rest of the series a pass.