Monday, January 6, 2014

Strangler's Moon by E.E. "Doc" Smith

Stranglers' Moon is the second in the Family D'Alembert series by Smith. When SOTE finally notices that tourists on the moon of Vesa are going missing in massive numbers, they decide to send in their top agents, Jules and Yvette, to investigate the matter. The pair decide to split up to be more effective, so Jules dresses down and becomes a common laborer, while Yvette resurrects her Carmen Velasquez personna, this time as a wealthy widow traveling to Vesa to gamble away her sorrows. On the way she meets and falls for a wealthy but mysterious stranger, Dak, and were it not for their irreconcilable differences - he would never survive on the three gee world of DesPlaines, and she would have health issues if she had to live at one gee all the time - she might have actually considered doing something about it (a No No for the censors when Smith was writing). But Dak disappears after arriving on Vesa, and Yvette is now personally motivated to find the person or persons responsible.

In the meantime, Jules is having plenty of fun being caught between a gang of men from the planet below (settled by refugees from the Indian subcontinent) and the rough and ready workers of Vesa. One would think if things were always as tense as they get when Jules signs up as a laborer, the companies would never get any work done, so the stress is a little manufactured, but it sets Jules up for a rather miraculous escape much later in the book when he acquires a life debt from one of the young gang members. Also, if I were Jules' foreman I'd be more than a little bit curious about his acrobatic abilities (remember, Jules & Yvette travel with the family Circus), and think that perhaps the background he'd put in his job application was spurious.

Semi-amusing, but not the most inspired of Smith's works in this series.

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