Polaris by Jack McDevitt

Since we’ve been talking about Jack McDevitt’s books lately, with Will giving a great overview yesterday of the Academy series, let me toss in this review of a book from early in one of McDevitt’s different series.

Polaris (Alex Benedict, #2)Polaris by Jack McDevitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having really enjoyed McDevitt’s Engines of God and read Orson Scott Card’s review of the Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath mystery/archeological-treasure-hunt series I turned to the library to see what was around. I was happy to see that they had number 2 in the series and so that’s where I’m beginning.

As with Engines of God, this book presents one mystery/cliffhanger after another and then goes about investigating in a very straight forward way. Which is fine with me since McDevitt’s storytelling is good and the concept interesting.

The Polaris is the Mary Celeste of its day, found 60 years ago abandoned in space with everyone mysteriously gone but no sign of a struggle. Our intrepid dealer in pricey artifacts manages to pick up a few choice items, only to find that someone is mysteriously tracking down all his clients and stealing the items. Presented with a mystery like this, who could resist? Not Alex and Chase.

Instead of the archaeologists who won’t leave their finds which Will mentions being a recurring theme  in the Academy series, this shows Alex Benedict unable to leave an intriguing mystery alone until he has solved it, despite increasing danger to himself or Chase. This is a standard mystery theme and one that we would expect from a curious and inquiring mind but Benedict does take it to almost ridiculous levels before the end of the book. We don’t mind, though, since it is such an entertaining ride and we also want to know what happened!

This was a really solid mystery and when I was looking through the book again I was impressed with the structure. One tends to forget by the end, because it is rather a long book, how much of it was set up at the beginning as perfectly normal narrative. Quite enjoyable and I’ll be looking for the next in the series.

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