“Better some tears get shred because she was mean, than blood splashed because she wasn’t.”
A pair of national tragedies in the 1990’s has turned the US into a largely totalitarian nation. Homeland Security Services is the omnipresent but largely mysterious elite law enforcement organization that takes over when cases are too dangerous or too important to entrust to anyone else. Miracle Dunn’s first case as Krait Squad’s new investigator involves a simple looking murder which uncovers a less simple makeshift crypt in the apartment next door.
I’m quite torn on this first novel in Michael Stackpole’s Homeland Security services series. It takes place in an intriguing, unnerving alternate reality that displays Stackpole’s usual thorough development and vivd descriptions. Everything is internally consistent and provides a stark environment with tons of potential to frame Miracle’s story against. Heavy topics, ranging from government approved exile to institutionalized, legalized discrimination and covering a wide range in between saturate the society HSS polices and the variety of directions Stackpole could explore within this dystopian framework are extremely intriguing.
Miracle and her coworkers are nicely individualized characters in both areas of expertise and personalities. I adore the way Stackpole fleshed them out via their approaches to their job and interactions with Miracle such that it all feels natural and the pace never slows.
However the breakneck pace is where I have my reservations. There is so much happening and so many story threads introduced in this short novel that by the end I felt like too much was left dangling. It sets up a few too many outstanding mysteries and as a result came across more like the first half of a longer novel than a standalone start to a series.
To be clear: a central mystery IS solved and by and large a complete, good story is told. But there are a couple of other important things that certainly seemed like they were going to be addressed during this book, and it was hard not to be disappointed when I realized they were going to be left obscure. Mystery series walk a fine line of giving the reader enough to satisfy during each book and keeping enough back to build to future installments, and overall Perfectly Invisible did too little of the former and too much of the latter.
Still, there’s a lot to enjoy in Stackpole’s alternate vision of the US, and I am interested in continuing with the series. Though to be honest, will probably wait until there are at least a couple more to read at a time to be sure I get enough plot advancement to avoid the unfinished feeling I was left with here.
2 replies on “Perfectly Invisible Review”
I’ve given up on Stackpole myself. After having the Queen Colony series just being abandoned on a cliffhanger I decided it wasn’t worth investing my time or thoughts. Hope this one works out for you 🙂
Shame to hear. Love his world building, and Talion is one of my favorite books ever. Guess I’ll stick to tracing down his older stand alone novels and short stories.
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