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When I went back and re-read my entry in the Strange New Worlds contest, I was struck by just how many Easter eggs I’d included in a short span of story. And it made me wonder if maybe I’d put in too much. Is there such a thing as “Easter egg overkill”?
Greg Cox proves that there’s not.
Foul Deeds Will Rise is a Star Trek novel in the same vein as the Khan books that Cox wrote a few solar cycles ago, in that they take well-known (and some more obscure) Trek references and make them organic elements in the story. Sometimes they’re one-off winks, like when Roberta Lincoln meets Jamie Sommers, but most of the time they fit right into driving the narrative forward. In this case, the book uses “The Conscience of the King” as a launching point, asking the question “Whatever happened to Lenore Karidian?”
The basic setup: the Enterprise, being the only ship in the quadrant again maybe, is assigned to ferry one Ambassador Kevin Riley to mediate a cease-fire between Pavak and Oyolo — two planets at war with each other over various reasons that play into the background fairly early, except to inform the utter lack of faith each has for the other, thus engendering the easy suspicion that breaks out after the Pavakian ambassador is killed aboard the ship.
It’s a murder mystery twisted like a pretzel, as the list of suspects not only includes members of the diplomatic delegations, but Karidian as well. Turns out she’s been volunteering as a rescue worker in a refugee camp, and took Jim Kirk up on his invitation to visit the ship. Just in time to get caught up in a murder that matches almost word-for-word those from her original killing spree.
Is she killing again? Is there someone else on the ship killing delegates? And while all of this is going on, we have hostage situations on both planets, a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks, terrorists stealing weapons of mass destruction…
As Kirk would say, “Sounds like fun.”
And it is. The only quibble I have is that Kevin Riley’s characterization didn’t quite ring true for me. I know he’s been through a lot, and Cox even references some of that history between him and Kirk (see the novel A Flag Full of Stars for more of that), but Riley seems a little off in this venture. At one point he even addresses his former captain by last name only, and that struck me as just a little bit off-center from the Kevin Riley we’d seen and read about.
Other than that, it really felt like a follow-up episode of the original series. The story is solid, even though General Pogg seems a little too impetuous for the situation he’s in, and the reveal of the true murder plot is done with a twist on an old idea that I never saw coming, because no one would deliberately do that with…
Definitely worth the time and effort. If only just to catch up with old friends we don’t get to see too often.