Series: Keiko (#3)
Publisher: Saga Press
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2017
Captain Ichabod Drift and the crew of the Keiko have a new mission on their hands, and this time it’s not one they’ve chosen. With one of their number held hostage, they have a ransom to raise and a deadline to do it by . . .
In my review of Dark Sky, I praised the Keiko series for maintaining a standalone basis in an ongoing series. Dark Deeds proves that praise to be slightly premature. This time around, the story picks up pretty much where the last one left off. Having failed in their mission the last time around, Ichabod and crew are offered a way out of their predicament by villain of the hour Orlov. That way out is to raise a large sum of money in a limited span of time. Naturally, the characters decide the best way to do that is to go to a casino plant. Now, anyone who has ever run a session of D&D will tell you how badly a leisure trip can go, and the inevitable plays out here. But the predictability of the plot beats don’t detract from the enjoyment this book provides.
One thing that separates Dark Deeds from its predecessors is that the crew are split up for almost the entire novel. In particular, Tamara Rourke gets a lot to do here that really doesn’t involve the rest of the team all that much. Splitting the party is always a risky technique in stories of this kind, as much of what draws readers in is that chemistry between characters. Here though it absolutely works, and Rourke’s chapters are the best part of the story. In part this us due to being something rarely seen in hostage stories. All too often the hostage is just a plot point, used only to motivate the other characters, but Rourke is no damsel in distress. She’s an active participant in the story from the very start. The other main factor in my enjoyment is that it shook things up. Yes, space heists and arena fights are exciting, but the hostage stuff is different to what has gone before. The characters may be familiar, but the pacing is kept fresh. As the situation develops, this is also the part of the story that keeps you guessing. Rourke’s fate and motivation will keep you guessing right up until the very end.
If these three books prove anything, it’s that Mike Brooks knows how to tell a story. Nothing in the Keiko trilogy is particularly mind-blowing, but all three books are thoroughly entertaining. They’re some of the best characters I’ve read about recently, certainly among the most fun, and the action, plotting, and worldbuilding are all brisk but well-executed. These aren’t deep stories, but they are fun ones. This is a series that won’t take you long to read, but you’ll enjoy what time you have.
I’ve seen a rumour (though can’t remember where) that brooks may plan to revisit the series at some point. If so, I’ll be the first in line to pick up that hypothetical book four.