Monday, March 15, 2010

The Domino Pattern, by Timothy Zahn

The Domino PatternThis novel is a slight departure from the usual format of the Quadrail series by Zahn. It's a bit of a locked door mystery, with a nod towards Murder on the Orient Express. Frank Compton and Bayta are on a Quadrail express, headed to investigate the Modhri presence on the far side of the galaxy, when passengers begin to drop dead. Given that no weapons or harmful substances are allowed on the Quadrail, this poses a bit of a puzzle and Frank seems to be the only individual equipped to investigate.

The victims are all part of a group negotiating a new medical services contract between a human firm and a couple of alien races. The obvious motive for the crime is to somehow disrupt the contract negotiations, but things get a little more complex than that as the novel moves along. The ending is a little surprising, and other things that come to light during the investigation lead Frank and Bayta into what I'm guessing will be the fifth book in this series.

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