The Barnes & Noble Review
Jack McDevitt has decided to bring back a duo from a science fiction thriller he wrote more than 15 years ago, A Talent for War. In Polaris, Alex Benedict, an inquisitive antiquities dealer, and his sassy partner, Chase Kolpath, try to solve a legendary mystery surrounding a vanished starship crew.
Three starships travel to the edge of explored space to witness the scientific event of the millennium -- the collision of a white dwarf with a class G sun. After the spectacular occurrence, two ships make the jump through space back home; but just as the last ship, named Polaris -- a luxury vessel carrying six scientific luminaries -- reports "departure imminent," something goes terribly wrong. When a rescue ship reaches Polaris six days later, the ship is found deserted. The lander is still in its launch pad, all pressure suits are accounted for -- it's as if they just disappeared. With no bodies to be found and no habitable planet close by, the incident goes unsolved for 60 years.
When Benedict and Kolpath purchase artifacts from the Polaris, what begins as a transaction for some easy money turns into a deadly mystery. After the building where the remaining Polaris relics were to be displayed is bombed to the ground and Benedict and Kolpath are almost assassinated, their investigation eventually leads to a breakthrough that will turn civilization on its head!
The fascinating thing about this novel is that the reader is never certain until the very end where exactly McDevitt is going with the plot. Is it a ghost story? Is it about alien abduction? Is it a mystery based on hard science fiction? One thing, however, is absolutely certain: Polaris is a brilliant science fiction whodunit. Paul Goat Allen
In recent years, Jack McDevitt has produced a remarkable series of interstellar adventure novels (Chindi, Omega, Deepsix) that has established him as perhaps the best pure storyteller working in the field today. McDevitt's latest, Polaris, can only enhance his reputation. A cleverly constructed mystery set against a rigorously developed future history, Polaris offers both a high-adrenaline narrative and a complex meditation on some thorny ethical dilemmas.
The Washington Post
This SF mystery's smooth and exciting surface makes it difficult to appreciate how exceptionally good it is at combining action and ideas. After a string of well-developed space operas, McDevitt returns to the lead characters of his second novel, A Talent for War (1988): antiquarian entrepreneur Alex Benedict (think Indiana Jones with an eye for profit) and his beautiful assistant, Chase Kolpath (think smart, sexy Dr. Watson). Decades earlier, in a future version of the Marie Celeste incident, the spaceship Polaris was discovered drifting and empty, its captain and passengers apparently vanished in an instant. Now, Alex and Chase realize that someone is tracking down relics of the Polaris and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way. Alex is first of all a businessman, but he becomes stubbornly fascinated with the impossible puzzle. While Chase saves Alex's neck from increasingly ingenious attacks, he untangles a complex plot. The real problem turns out to be not how the mass disappearance was done but the tangled motives behind it. McDevitt does a fine job of creating different worlds for Alex and Chase to explore as they hunt clues. Through Chase's wry narration, the novel also succeeds in presenting characters who may be concealing important facets of themselves. That's appropriate in an SF mystery novel, but especially in one that turns out to have a surprisingly serious human core. Agent, Ralph Vincinanza. (Nov. 2) Forecast: A blurb from Stephen King, plus crossover from mystery readers, will give a boost. A multiple Nebula Award finalist, McDevitt might snag the award itself with this one. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
During a sightseeing trip to a distant star system to view a cosmic phenomenon, the passengers of the space yacht Polaris-all brilliant scientists-disappear without a trace. Sixty years later, antiques dealer Alex Benedict and his partner, Chase Kolpath, investigate the whereabouts of the missing passengers and embark on a trek across the galaxy just a few steps ahead of unknown pursuers who have already made attempts on their lives. Veteran sf author McDevitt (Deepsix) combines hard science with mystery and adventure in a wild tour of the distant future that also comes to grips with the ethical issues of tomorrow-life extension and the cosmic environment. Stellar plotting, engaging characters, and a mastery of storytelling make this a standout addition to sf collections. Highly recommended. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Another space mystery for antiquarian sleuths to resolve (Chindi, 2002, etc.), this time involving relic dealer Alex Benedict and his beautiful pilot/assistant, narrator Chase Kolpath. Space yacht Polaris, with a small, select group of celebrities aboard, observed the spectacle of an ordinary sun being ripped apart by a superdense neutron star. Hours later, pilot Maddy English reported the ship on its way home-but it never arrived. A rescue vessel found Polaris adrift, power and systems intact, its Artificial Intelligence switched off-and devoid of human presence. Despite an intensive investigation, the mystery was never resolved. Sixty years later, artifacts from the still-mysterious ship go on sale. Alex manages to grab a couple; a handful of others are distributed before a bomb, apparently intended to assassinate a nasty local dictator, destroys the rest. A burglary at Alex's house, ostensibly a theft, actually allowed the perpetrator to handle a blouse that once belonged to Maddy English. Becoming intrigued, Alex discovers that others connected with the vanished passengers also disappeared under unexplained circumstances. Someone else, probably Alex's burglar, shows great interest in the remaining Polaris artifacts-a person at pains to conceal his real identity. Still others connected with the investigation turn out to have no identifiable past. And when Alex and Chase persist, someone attempts to kill them. One of the vanished passengers was a leading immortality researcher; others were active members of a society dedicated to preventing overpopulation: but what's the connection? A competently wrought but rather pallid adventure for a sleuthing duo that could have used personalitytransplants; the whole thing reads like a long-abandoned, recently refurbished draft. Author tour. Agent: Ralph Vicinanza