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Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Dark Side of the Moon by Terri Lynn Main

Dark Side of the Moon

ISBN-13: 978-1-926931-19-7

Terri Lynn Main offers up an impressive debut science fiction, mystery novel in Dark Side of the Moon. Carolyn Masters, an ex-FBI profiler, has a history. A history she's trying to forget. In an attempt to distance herself from that past, she takes a teaching position at the lunar university at Armstrong City.

But the manipulated atmosphere of the doomed city creates a mask hiding the less controlled elements of the lunar independence movement. It isn't long before Carolyn's past catches up with her and she finds herself waist-deep in a murder investigation. What at first appears a cut-and-dried case becomes a complex mystery that threatens even Earth.

The mystery is a good, old-fashion who-dun-it. Even a what-dun-it. Carolyn gets saddled with an abrasive ex-cop, Michael. Between the two, peeling back one layer of the mystery leaves them with yet another puzzle to solve. Mystery lovers won't be disappointed in this offering. The only potential downside would be for mystery readers who want quick action. Main focuses on character and world building for the first few chapters. Don't expect the murder in the first chapter or two.

And it really is in the world and characters that Main excelled. Both are not only believable, but have depth and richness usually found in more seasoned authors. There are only two hiccups to that believability factor.

One, Main has obviously done her homework on the science. Much of it follows hard science in potential near-future abilities. But the inclusion of a common myth, that exposure to a vacuum causes one's body to expand and blood to boil in seconds, wiggled its way into the manuscript. Other than that one scientific miss, I found the science very believable, so overall she gets a high score on that account.

Two, there is room for improvement in the dialog. While overall not bad, some of it occasionally didn't ring true in explaining sometimes intimate detail to strangers, or saying things that most people would tend to avoid saying. These instances didn't lessen the richness of the characters, but improvement there could greatly supplement them.

One of the characteristics that impressed me was Main's natural way of integrating her character's faith into the storyline. Main portrayed a Christian character authentically, rather than the caricatures one tends to find on either side of the fence. The reader won't feel preached at, though the character does give her opinion on occasion. Both Christian and secular readers have little to fear here.

Another area that the reader will enjoy in this book is the descriptions. I had no problem seeing in my mind's eye the trip she took from Earth to the Moon, or the domed cities. The beginning has a touch of 2001: A Space Odyssey to it as we follow her on the trip to the Moon.

This is an outstanding first novel, and I would easily recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction and/or mysteries set in an interesting world filled with well drawn characters.

Note: I received an ebook from the author upon which this review is based.

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