Detective Inspector Tom Blake is woken one night with a case like no other. Four months into their mission to establish a new lunar colony, one of the astronauts has been found dead. Blake is under pressure to work out what happened before the press find out or worse, any of the remaining crew members meet a similar end.
Title: Murder on the Moon | Author: Mark Robinson | Publisher: Self-published | Pages: 291 | ISBN: 9781721962662 | Publication date: 15th July 2018 | Source: review copy provided by author
‘Murder on the Moon’ is a book with such a great concept that it’s easy to giving its shortcomings (not that there are any significant problems with it). That concept is the one spelled out in the attention-grabbing title – there has been a murder…on the moon! The book is a blend of hard science fiction and whodunnit that seems slightly odd at first, but which works well and satisfied both the SF nerd and the mystery fan in me.
An English scientist is found murdered in a moon-base where he has been working as part of a small international team. He and his co-workers are deploying a solar farm that will generate electricity which can then be transmitted back to Earth. Bristolian copper Detective Inspector Tom Blake is called in to investigate as the victim is from his force’s jurisdiction.
The writers of detective novels often place artificial blocks in the way of their heroes, ‘Murder on the Moon’ plays with that idea in a bold, fun way. The logistics of the case mean that Blake can’t visit the crime scene and can therefore only carry out his inquiries via video interviews with the rest of the lunar crew and face to face conversations with people on Earth who knew the victim and suspects.
Aside from those constraints on the investigation, the book progresses in pretty standard police procedural fashion. Blake talks various people and gradually builds up a mental picture of what has happened before making his final deduction.
Author Mark Robinson does a really good job of balancing the Earth-bound and lunar action. Blake’s chasing down of clues is intellectually gripping in the way a good detective novel often is, whilst the scientific detail of the scenes set on the moon is convincing and never overwhelms the story. There perhaps isn’t as much tension as I might have expected, with the remaining members of the moon-side crew never seeming to be in that much danger. Robinson does ramp up the suspense on Earth, though, with various parties trying to thwart Blake’s efforts.
For a self-published first novel, ‘Murder on the Moon’, is assured and entertaining. Whilst it does on paper seem like a particularly off the wall novelty episode of Columbo, the characters and events are believable enough that it manages to work as both science fiction and mystery. It’s readable, gripping and that central concept is so much fun that it’s hard not to love it.