We start with a murder in Newcastle. Detective Sidney Hurst gets lumbered with the career make or break case and to head the investigation. This is no ordinary murder, it is a North, a genetic clone and family member of the North dynasty.
There are two disturbing problems with this case. One: There are no North's missing. Two: It closely resembles a mass murder that occurred twenty years previously on St Libra. St Libra is a vast, largely unexplored planet which produced Bioil from which the Earths energy crises was resolved decades earlier. The flow of Bioil is controlled by the North's.
Angela Tramelo is the sole survivor of the massacre on St Libra. She was convicted of the murders, but resolutely stated that an unknown alien did it. After a preliminary investigation the HDA (Human Defence Alliance) launch a huge expedition to St Libra to track down the elusive alien whom only Angela has seen to date.
Angela is released from prison to 'assist' in this expedition. Deep in the St Libra jungle the expedition gets cut off, and the deaths begin...
* * *
Written with rich prose, a fantastic vision, and a character set making this stand alone novel of Peter's one of his best, if not the best.
With a cast of over fifty characters, all intertwined and interwoven, we see practically all of them develop through this tome.
About half way through the book you get to the stage of really don't want to put it down, but there's still five hundred pages to go!! A word of advice, pay attention to the little snippets early on in the novel, they have ramifications later on. You will wish you had paid a little more attention to them when you first read the snippets. When I realised this, about the second reference, I quickly whizzed back and reread some of these. I'm willing to bet you will do the same. Or you will want to reread the whole novel again to catch the bits that you almost missed. I wont say any more, I'm wary of spoiler alerts :o)
Peter, is in my opinion, the J. R. R. Tolkien of the SF world for his rich world building. With complete histories, populations and characters, there is no denying Peter's ability to create stunning new vistas which he allows us to explore.
I am huge fan, and this book for me only confirms why.
Sean P Chatterton