Search & Recovery
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Cover Artist: George Tsartsianidis / Dreamstime, Angela Harburn / Dreamstime
Review by Sam Lubell
WMG Publishing Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781561466153
Date: 18 February 2015
Search & Recovery is the fourth book in the Anniversary Day Saga, a subseries of Rusch's Retrieval Artist novels. It is the second in an unusual publishing experiment of releasing a book a month in this Saga from January to June. Rusch has written that this rapid pace allows her to include Retrieval Artist Universe novels like this one that does not include Miles Flint, the retrieval artist, the focus of previous books. Instead, perhaps to give the series more of an epic feel, Rusch tells the stories of how other characters are affected by the moon’s Anniversary Day bombings that happened in an earlier volume.
Search & Recovery opens with a scene four years before the Anniversary Day bombings (book 1) showing the death of Berhane Magalhaes' mother when the lunar domes sectioned as a result of the original bombings. The book jumps to Berhane's break-up with her fiancé, the lawyer Torkild Zhu, as shown in A Murder of Clones. In Search & Recovery, Berhane, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, goes on to volunteer in the efforts to recover bodies from the bombings and starts a new relationship with a fellow volunteer.
Other chapters tell the story of Luc Deshin, a crime boss who has appeared in previous novels. After narrowly escaping death during the bombings, he begins using his underworld connections to investigate how the bombings happened. Ava Huynh, of the Earth Alliance Security Division, tries to convince her superiors to authorize a joint human/alien investigate despite their insistence that this is just a human problem. Wilma Goudkins, also of the Earth Alliance Security Division, goes to the moon to see if she can find her sister, believed dead in the bombings. And a teacher on Earth is reminded of her mysterious connection to the clones that forced her to assume a new identity as Pippa.
In a normal novel these plotlines would converge and the characters would join forces to solve the mystery. That does not happen here. In fact, they never meet and many of these plots are left dangling. Instead, Search & Recovery can be regarded as glimpses in the lives of characters who may be important in a later volume, but are not yet. In an author's note Rusch wrote that this book was not part of her original plan, but in writing Vigilantes she found she needed a separate volume to tell the stories of what that book's characters had done before entering that book. Still, this feels like a collection of outtakes or an author's background notes on her characters, rather than a cohesive novel. The book also is unusually short, at 216 pages. I believe A Murder of Clones and Search & Recovery could have been better had they been edited down to a single volume.