Coruscant Nights II: Street of Shadows by Michael Reaves (2008, Del Rey)
The first Coruscant Nights novel, which I reviewed last week, had a very hard boiled/noir vibe. The second, Street of Shadows, is a straight-up murder mystery that hits all of the beats of classic American detective fiction.
Jax Pavan and his team agree to help a member of the pheromone-producing Zeltron species, Dejah Duare (who I couldn’t help but imagine looking and sounding a bit like a space-alien version of Barbara Stanwyck). Dejah wants to get off Coruscant with her lover, a well-known light sculptor and possible political target of the Empire. Soon after Jax signs on to help the couple out, however, Dejah’s partner is found dead in his apartment.
What follows is a very solid mystery, complete with suspects, entanglements with the police, and red herrings. To complicate matters, Darth Vader is still looking for Jax, this time sending the bounty hunter Aurra Sing after him.
Running parallel to these events is another subplot, this one involving Padme Amidala’s former security chief, Gregar Typho.
Typho, apparently, had strong and unrequited feelings for Padme, and has vowed to discover the truth of her death and exact vengeance on the responsible party. His quest takes him surprisingly far in the right direction, leading him to Coruscant and Darth Vader, who he believes killed both Padme and Anakin Skywalker. The influence of this story on the A-plot is mostly incidental, but it is tragic and rather touching nonetheless, and I’d say the book is better with it than it would be without it.
Street of Shadows continues the story that its predecessor began, but also functions well as a stand-alone novel, and at only three hundred pages with fairly large print, it’s a quick read that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The mystery is sufficiently puzzling, if you’re into guessing at this sort of thing, and its solution is a nifty twist on a whodunit cliché.
Next week, we’ll look at the third and currently final book in the Coruscant Nights series, Patterns of Force.
One last note: Much as the Roman and Eastern Rite branches of Christianity celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter on different calendar dates, the Star Wars fan community appears to be divided into two sects. The first, seemingly consisting of the majority of fans, celebrates “Star Wars Day” on the fourth of May—today. The basis for this is, of course, a fairly obvious pun. I personally am of the persuasion that May 25th, the anniversary of the original Star Wars film’s release, is “Star Wars Day.”
But, ultimately, we should put our differences aside; ever since I started this project, every day is, to one extent or another, a Star Wars day (I read at least a few chapters of a Star Wars book a day to stay caught up for my reviews). And, as I have pointed out many times while discussing this, any excuse to watch Star Wars is a good one. So, while I really do think that pun is lame, I hope you enjoy watching the films or whatever commemoration you choose. May the Force be with you.