KING OF INFINITE SPACE
Erica House / 217 pages / November 1998
Anyone who has ever left the city to find peace and security in the country has learned that small towns are where things really happen. Underneath that soft, furry underbelly of rural life lie more secrets, cover-ups, and shenanigans than metropolitan areas can hope to match. Murder, molestation, and general mayhem — it’s all there behind the frosty pitchers of lemonade and the sweet granny smiles, and no outsider is ever going to dig it up–and survive to report it.
Sheriff Schneider moved to Fairhaven, Ohio to escape the memories of his beloved, late wife. It looked like the perfect place to raise their daughter. At least, until the first murder lands in his jurisdiction. That investigation leads him to a murder case which has remained open for twenty-five years. It also leads him to a bizarre experiment being carried out at the university, not to mention the danger which comes along with prying into matters he doesn’t understand.
On the bright side, the case brings him a new love. On the dark side, Captain Toni Ashcroft has her own dark secrets, ones that even she doesn’t know.
Not a promising start to a difficult investigation, but it’s up to the two of them to find the answers, no matter who wants to keep them hidden.
The pull of King of Infinite Space is in these tangled puzzles. Virtually every character is concealing some secret that could possibly solve the case. The identity of the murders or murderers remains unknown for a satisfactorily long time. The horror uncovered is suitably unsettling. They are heinous crimes, after all.
Concentrate on these unknown quantities, because much of the book is just what you would expect. Some of the situations are foregone conclusions for a scifi/mystery of this type. I think few of the resolutions of a personal nature will come as a surprise to anyone. But, as I said, there are some givens in the genre, and it’s an intricate dance to work around these. Then again, sometimes that predictable outcome is just what the author wants. No point in dodging it then.
King of Infinite Space is a mild-mannered murder-fest. It’s an entertaining read, if not a thrilling one. A touch more tension would have added to the suspense factor and would have been a welcome addition, for my tastes, but, that’s just my tastes, and I have a feeling that isn’t going to put anybody off. If you love a mystery — if you love a biomedical mystery — you are just going to read it and enjoy it.
And as an added bonus, maybe it will prod you into keeping a closer watch on your children. Anything that does that gets extra points in my book, which puts King of Infinite Space solidly in the thumbs-up category.