When the planet Moscow was destroyed, its few survivors launched a counterattack against the most likely perpetrator: the neighboring system of New Dresden. But New Dresden wasn't responsible, and Rachel Mansour, black ops agent for Old Earth, is assigned to find out who was. An unknown and seemingly unstoppable enemy frustrates her at every turn, systematically killing those who could help solve the puzzle.

The sequel to Singularity Sky is an intelligent mystery/space opera that relies as much on emotion and character as it does on hard science. Stross writes with humor and flair, moving the plot along briskly. The various subplots are tied into the main thread seamlessly, and these are characters the reader identifies with and cares about. Refreshingly, several major characters are women.

In this sophomore outing, Stross maintains the momentum of his first novel, except for a few problems with pacing. Those looking for a stand-alone will be disappointed; several plot strands are left unresolved. Mainstream science fiction fans, however, as well as mystery readers looking to branch out, will thoroughly enjoy this fast, suspenseful adventure. (Jul., 355 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum