Book Review: ASSASSIN’S ORBIT by John Appel

Title in bright blue on an exploding spaceship
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes? first book


Book cover for ASSASSIN'S ORBIT: title in blue between an exploding ship and a person's head in a spacehelmet

Murder forces unlikely allies

On the eve of the planet Ileri’s historic vote to join the Commonwealth, the assassination of a government minister threatens to shatter everything. Private investigator Noo Okereke and spy Meiko Ogawa join forces with police chief Toiwa to investigate – and discover clues that point disturbingly toward a threat humanity thought they had escaped.

A threat that could destroy Ileri and spark an interplanetary war unless the disparate team can work together to solve the mystery.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


ASSASSIN’S ORBIT is a rare SFF with a large cast of POVs, all of whom are middle aged or older. Even with the books focused on that age range (which admittedly I don’t read often), there is usually at least one young sprightly thing to do the very demanding physical stuff. But no, the ladies of this book (and the MCs are all ladies) are more than up to chasing down assailants and EVA operations, relying on their years of experience.

I picked this book up because it’s a mystery with political implications, set in space. Even with the blurb and the afterword, I wasn’t expecting a coup quite that violent. I completely agree with the tone of the afterword about it feeling very prescient (and somewhat surreal) to read about it given the last year (not to mention the other plot elements that are very 2020, but written back in 2018.)

It’s a fast-paced book – fast enough that in a few paces I read over the odd page to work exactly how many things happened in the space of the few hundred words there. It’s engaging, as the various groups rock from one disaster to another, trying to maintain peace, find killers, and protect their home. There are nationalists (planetists?) rioting about joining a galactic body, a foreign ship showing up without prior warning (and then being about as unhelpful as possible), and a smuggling group that could help, but that would mean breaking morals.

The various POVs were tightly interlinked, so I didn’t drift off or get bored with any of them, which is great after quite a few disappointing reads to the contrary recently.

It’s a great debut and judging by the ending and the afterword, there will be more books in this series (even if goodreads says nothing, nor the publisher’s website.) There’s certainly potential to track down the people involved with the coup and the more dangerous technology.


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