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The Sapphire Sirens, by John Zakour
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2009
Review Posted: 6/2/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Sapphire Sirens, by John Zakour

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

This is the seventh book in this series, and apparently it's going to be the last as well. Which is unfortunate, because I also thought it was the best book in the series. These are basically riffs off of the 50s pulp science fiction and detective fiction novels, hence the riffy covers. They're humorous, filled with action and over-the-top plots, people, and resolutions.

Zach is the last private detective left in the future and he's already saved the world numerous times. So when Kiana--a sapphire-haired siren from the hidden land of Lantis--shows up and wants him to solve the murder of her mother, it seems like a rather low-key case. But Zach doesn't have much choice in taking it on, since Kiana kidnaps him and takes him to Lantis, an island in the middle of the Pacific that's the home to 10,000 women who believe men have destroyed their own world and aren't doing much for Earth either, even though they are occasionally useful. Zach finds numerous suspects for Kiana's mother's murder . . . including Kiana herself. But of course, solving the murder is only part of Zach's problem, because at some point the future of the planet is going to come into question.

I really enjoyed this book. As I said earlier, this was by far the best book in the entire series. The plot starts of rather simple--solve a case of missing baseball memorabilia--and then escalates first to the murder, and then to a threat to the entire world. This book emphasized the detective aspect of the premise for the series, which is likely why I liked it so much. We get to see Zach actually work his way through finding the culprits, interviewing all of the suspects, finding out about the society and the potential killers, all while events begin building around him. It was a slower build to the action, but it worked much better. We also see Zach limited, since the kidnappers take away his gun GUS and most of his contacts outside of Lantis. He has to rely solely on himself and HARV, the computer hard-wired to his brain. This made it seem like Zach was actually in some danger while in Lantis. I thought Zach and HARV had much more character in this book as well. So the plot, the writing, the characters, everything was much more developed and thought out and it all just worked.

There was a rough spot toward the end, when the plot suddenly seems to shift from the resolution of the murder to something else. That shift was a jolt to me as a reader, and appeared to come out of nowhere, but after reading further I realized that it was SUPPOSED to be jolting, because it was part of the plot. Zach felt jolted by the sudden turn, and so the reader should as well. It actually lead into the final moments of the book, which was much more believable as a threat to the world than some of the previous plots. So even that little critique isn't really an issue. In previous books, I mentioned that there were numerous typos that should have been fixed in copy edits and apparently weren't and that these typos were extremely distracting because they were so numerous. There are some typos here, but not nearly as many as in previous books, so that wasn't an issue (much) here either.

Overall, a great book and a great read. Much more focus on the detective/mystery aspects, a much more believable plot that built to a great final threat to the world, and some great characterizations. Based on this book, I'm sad to see that there aren't any additional books planned in this series, although it is good to end on such a high note.

Joshua Palmatier
Benjamin Tate
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