Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, fun characters, creative setting
Cons: Book, while logical, takes a few leaps
The Bottom Line:
Quest to free mentor
Turns into quest for killer
Mystery in space
Diane Vallere is one of the authors who consistently stretches the boundaries of the cozy mystery genre. True, she has some that are very traditional mysteries, but she also has some that…aren’t. The perfect example of that is Spiders from Mars, the newest in the Sylvia Stryker Space Case Mysteries.
Yes, you read that right. This entire book, really the entire series, takes place outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Syliva herself is half Plunian and half human and the series introduces us to a wide variety of human and alien characters. This book resolves a cliffhanger from the previous book in the series, and there are references to past events. But if you wanted to jump in here, you could without too much difficulty.
It’s been four months since we last checked in with Sylvia, and in that time, she’s had one thing on her mind – freeing Neptune, her mentor and friend, from prison for a crime he sort of committed. (For more on that, you’ll need to read the previous book in the series.) She’s come up with the perfect plan, too. She’s going to have him declared dead so she can slip him out of prison.
However, when she goes to file the paperwork, she learns that there has been a murder in the prison and Neptune is the only suspect. Her original plan out the window, she has to act fast to free him and clear his name before he disappears for good. Can she do it?
As you can see, if the setting were on Earth, the mystery itself would feel very much like a cozy plot. Yes, there are things that change due to the space setting, but the heart of the book is a mystery. And it’s a good one. There are so many twists and turns, I thought I was on a space flight avoiding asteroids while I was reading it. The plot does take a couple leaps that were a little jarring but could have been smoothed over with a little editing. Don’t worry, these aren’t major things and everything makes sense at the end. I just wish things had been smoothed over a bit more.
The characters are wonderful. All of Sylvia’s friends put in appearances here, and it was great to see them again. They may be aliens, but they and their cultures are real and such fun to revisit.
And don’t let the space setting worry you. Yes, there may be a few things you aren’t used to seeing, but they are all explained, and it feels normal before you know it. I was fully lost in Sylvia’s world and enjoying every page of it.
This book was over all too quickly. If you are looking for a fun change of pace, then you’ll be glad you picked up Spiders from Mars.
You’ll also enjoy the rest of Sylvia Stryker’s Space Cases.