Lost Souls: Book One of the Disciples of Cassini Trilogy by Penny de Byl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lost Souls begins in Melbourne, Australia with the puzzling cause of death of David Layton. We are introduced to Detective Inspector Zoe Moore who will be leading the investigation.
Next the book introduces us to Marcela Warrick arriving in Sydney at Everjein Enterprises. She is an ecologist and is about to go on a five year experiment to simulate the possibility of inhabiting and surviving on other planets. In a world race to create off-world technology Everjein have created an experiment in Antarctica and a carefully selected team are about to spend the next five years in Biojein, learning to grow their own food and continue the human population, replicating a situation similar to living on Titan. Marcela meets fellow Biojein inhabitants and in just a few days they find themselves in Antarctica.
Meanwhile Zoe has a second body with a puzzling cause of death. Farid Husain died at exactly the same time as David Layton. Research into both men revealed letters from Everjein Enterprises. When a third body turns up, Zoe’s investigation is shut down from above. But it doesn’t stop her and the team going to Sydney themselves to continue digging into an IVF system which looks like it links people dying at the same moment a mother gives birth. They uncover a drug called JQ2 but the doctor they really need to speak to is unavailable for the next five years.
In the Biojein dome complex the inhabitants must adjust to growing their own food. An IVF program is also underway with experiments on a hormone to speed up the human incubation period. But there is also a sinister side to the experiment. Marcela has a suspicious accident and something in the water killed her plants. She quickly begins a relationship with Barrett and finds herself pregnant. But most shocking is finding Jason Reid naked and near to death in the gardens. Constans Rijnder the Dutch Counsellor for the project must try to help keep things under control as Barrett is left in charge of the project and becomes under increasing pressure.
Back in Sydney, Everjein’s lawyer Warfield tries to keep the police at bay and the media quiet but with eight day communication blackouts and hours of delay between messages to simulate the off-world experience it’s a hard job. On top of this as the police dig deeper he too wonders if Barrett has been breaking the medical ethics law with his IVF programmes.
This book is an interesting concept with the off-world experiment. It took a while for me to connect with several of the characters. The science and the medical details are very good and reflect the author’s background. I picked up on Azaleas and Rhododendrons being used to describe the same situation. To me they are the same plant family but one is a large plant and the other a small shrub, I think one or the other should have been used. I also found a reference to Polar bears which I didn’t think went with the Antarctica region. I felt the book could do with one more run through editing which would take it from a shaking 4* to a more solid 4-4.5*.
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Penny will be our guest author here tomorrow, do come back and find out more about her and her book.