Commander Elena Shaw, chief engineer of the Galileo, has a whole bunch of ‘formers’ going on in her life. Her Captain, Greg Foster, is a former friend. They were once close but thanks to a furious argument in front of half the crew their working relationship is fractured, possibly beyond repair. Then there’s Danny Lancaster. He’s Elena’s crewmate, and former boyfriend. He’s also formerly of the living. Murdered in cold blood whilst on shore leave, the prime suspect is Treiko ‘Trey’ Zajec. He’s a (wait for it) former pirate. Pirates are usually untrustworthy sorts but Elena knows that Trey is not guilty because at the time of the murder, they were in bed together. Elena’s determination to prove Trey’s innocence leads her to openly defy Foster’s orders in an effort to bring Danny’s true killer to justice.
Elena’s not the only one dealing with a bad day. If having one crewmember murdered and another going rogue isn’t challenging enough, Captain Foster also has to contend with a first officer hiding secrets, an adulterous wife, and the small matter of discovering that Danny was investigating the destruction of the Phoenix, the ship his mother died on when Greg was just a boy, at the time of his murder.
Elizabeth Bonesteel’s debut novel is a confident and entertaining page-turner that makes good use of a wide variety of enjoyable characters to introduce the reader to the world of Central Gov. The dual narratives are nicely served by switching both settings and storytellers, with supporting players Jessica Lockwood, Will Valentis and Ted Shimada all getting a chance to shine. Trey’s personal history provides a nice contrast to the regimented environment of the Corps, although there’s plenty of scope to expand on his pirating escapades in the future.
The action comes thick and fast; the secrets behind Elena’s breakup with Danny and her fallout with Greg are built up to the point that when they’re finally exposed they serve as legitimate WTF moments. Ideally, we would have seen these significant points told via a ‘real-time’ flashback as some of the intended impact is buffered by letting the reader learn about them solely through third-hand dialogue, but overall this is an assured start to what has all the potential to be a compelling series. With a sequel slated for release at the end of the year, Shaw, Foster and the crew of the Galileo have plenty of adventure ahead of them, and we’re looking forward to being along for the ride.
THE COLD BETWEEN /
AUTHOR: ELIZABETH BONESTEEL / PUBLISHER: HARPER VOYAGER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW