Dead Man on the Moon
by Steven Harper
Review by Gayle Surrette
Phobos Impact Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0977070824
Date: 25 February, 2006 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Noah has to make his first trek outside to see the murder scene before he even unpacks. He doesn't get back to his apartment until after midnight to discover one roommate is having an orgy in the bedroom. Noah throws the offending parties out and has a heated argument with his roommate. Next day he is assigned to a second murder investigation only to find that the victim is the man he threw out of his apartment. His first step is to interview the victim. No it's not a mistake he interviews the victim. Seems there's some pretty strict regulations that determine death so you can be dead, sort of dead, and not dead at all without being undead.
There's a lot to like in Dead Man on the Moon. First the characters are well drawn with interesting quirks. For example, the medical examiner collects vampire jokes (and yes there are a fair few in the book). The daily life and detail of Luna City/University is not fully explained but we come to learn a lot about it through the story. With few exceptions, everyone living on Luna is a student and has a primary job (usually related to their major) and a secondary job assigned based on the persons skills and abilities. If you don't have any skill, well then you get the really dirty jobs like cleaning the fish tanks and recycling bins. Cost of living is very high but there's also a complex system of barter that helps residents live on their salaries. It all seems to hold together making Luna City/University seem like it could be real.
The main murder is engrossing since it's so much like a locked room mystery. How did anyone without a suit get that far from an airlock? If he didn't go by himself why are there no footprints or transport tracks nearby? The clues are gathered slowly over time and possibilities explored. The reader just follows along because many of the clues are esoteric and/or related to the setup of the colony and the problems of living in low gravity and in pressure domes.