The skeletal remains of a woman are discovered in the Disty section of Sahara Dome on Mars. Problem is, the Disty have such a fear of death that all who come in contact with it are contaminated and must be purified through a series of at-times-deadly rituals. Matters worsen when the site is found to be the place of a long-ago massacre, triggering a panic in the Disty community around the idea of mass contagion.

Enter Miles Flint, retrieval artist. Hired by a forensic anthropologist desperate to remove the contamination so she can return to Earth, it soon becomes clear that he's the only individual who has the resources to end the panic.

The Disty are menacingly alien, and the humans' difficult interactions with them and their frightening death rituals are a highlight of this book. Wonderfully plotted and written, this fourth entry in Rusch's Retrieval Artist series is a compelling read. (Apr., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs