Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

Review published on March 6, 2018.

The authorities in the Glitter Band are starting to worry; there was a death a couple of weeks ago that they have not be able to explain. Last week there were two more. This week there have been four. No one has been able to explain why, and the information that they have tried to elicit from the corpses themselves hasn’t given any leads. The implants that link each citizen to each other and the state in a fluid form of democracy where citizens are consulted and vote on matters small and large, have gone rogue and killed their hosts. Are these just random failings of the implants, which is unheard of, or is there someone out there causing them to fail? Panoply realises that they have a problem on their hands, one that seems to be growing exponentially and they have no idea who will be next to die.

The secrecy surrounding the deaths is high as they cannot risk society finding out that there is a killer on the loose. Inspector Dreyfus is brought urgently up to speed on the cases so far and those that are happening as the investigation tries to develop leads. To add to their woes, Devon Garlin, a member of the elite from Chasm City, is raising the political game by questioning the authority of the prefects and society with the aim of driving wedges between the habitats; somehow he seems to know about the mysterious deaths of the people too. What was a worrying situation is fast getting out of control…

Set in the Revelation Space universe this is a fast-paced sci-fi detective thriller is full of twists and turns and Dreyfus and his team try to work out who is doing the killing. The tech in the futuristic world is quite spectacular and Reynolds still manages to make it sound completely plausible. The secrets are revealed a little bit at a time as the story races to its fairly dramatic conclusion. However, it did feel like the ending unravelled a little too much rather than being neatly terminated, but that might be because there is more to come in a subsequent book; I hope so. Another stunning book from one of the masters of science fiction.

Paul Cheney 4/4

Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz 9780575090583 hbk Jan 2018


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