Red Planet Blues – Robert J. Sawyer (2013, Viking, Toronto)
Life in the Martian city of New Klondike is a bit akin to the wild west, gritty and shady (albeit with some serious tech). When exiled private eye Alex Lomax is called upon to work a case of a missing man who has recently undergone a body transfer, he is quickly embroiled in a complicated mystery involving fossilized treasure, a secret diary, and the long-buried facts behind a historical planetary landing. When people truly aren’t who they appear to be and the body count begins to mount, Lomax has to use all of his street smarts, charm, and brute force to save his own skin and solve the case. This is crafty science fiction noir with a generous side of humour and a few deft, creative turns. The occasionally annoying first-person narrative may rankle some readers, and Lomax’ sexist opinions are a turn off (remember, however, that this is an homage to classic noir, where that type of attitude prevailed), but the actual storytelling is entertaining and the pacing is appropriately speedy. A fun book to kick back with in the lawn chair this summer.