Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Echo by Jack McDevitt
Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath, his trusty pilot and sidekick, are back in a new adventure...of sorts. The duo is contacted by a woman who wants to get rid of a gravestone-shaped artifact that's been kicking around as a lawn ornament for years, and which bears mysterious glyphs. When they go to her estate to pick it up, someone else has already been there and made off with the object. Alex and Chase start tracking down the people who have taken it, and also dig into the origins of the tablet.
It turns out to have belonged to a famous but disappointed fellow, long dead, Somerset Tuttle who spent his life searching for extraterrestrials other than the Mutes. Why anyone would suddenly develop an interest in the hunk of rock is the heart of the mystery. Chase and Alex discover that the "abductor" was a friend of the Tuttle's, Rachel, who used to work as a pilot for a sightseeing company, but who has since quit her job and devoted her life to helping orphaned children.
Unfortunately, the story drags on and on, slowly plodding its way to the final solution, which wasn't all that surprising, given that the clues are all there early in the book. One could optimistically say that all of the extraneous material was there in order to flesh out various characters and background in the Benedict universe, but I think McDevitt had a short story to tell, and used a novel to tell it. Not his best work, in my opinion.