My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: Forensic anthropologist Aisha Costard has been summoned to Mars to examine skeletal remains recently discovered beneath a building erected by the Disty aliens. The bones belong to a human who vanished thirty years ago with her children. She is believed to have been one of the Disappeared, outlaws wanted for crimes against alien civilizations.
To investigate the mystery of the skeleton, Aisha turns to Retrieval Artist Miles Flint. Following the trail back three decades and seeking the whereabouts of the victim’s missing children, Miles discovers a deadly secret that could threaten the stability of the entire solar system…
The cases continue for Miles Flint and Noelle DiRicci and in a circuitous way that remains interesting. This time the mystery surrounds a human gravesite (which goes from the discovery of one skeleton to mass grave from a massacre years ago) on Mars that sets off an epic freak out of the Disty that renders them incapable of rational thought to the point that they act in ways that ensure their deaths & others. It's not pretty. An Earth anthropologist, Aisha Costard, is unknowingly caught up in the "contamination" as she came to help with the investigation of a skeleton found & she brings the case of identifying the skeleton to Flint as she & the remainder of the medical examiner team are all on the hook to be exterminated for their "contamination". On the Moon, Noelle is trying to settle into her new position as the head of security of the Domes and reporter, Ki Bowles is doing her level best to hinder her at every turn.
I enjoyed reading this one quite a bit but I admit that there were some things I wished were fleshed out more. I still don't know why Ki is so very opposed to DiRicci. I thought she'd see some sort of sense when she was shown reason and evidence or when she spoke to DiRicci's detractors (who had their own credibility & ethics problems) but she didn't. And she didn't even bother to research the Disty to get anything like an explanation for their behavior. I was hoping she'd find herself & her freelance team "contaminated" for just having the conversation about the contamination because that's a thing with the Disty apparently. I suppose it's simply a matter of Ki being able to make her own name and advance herself using DiRicci and nothing more.
I also wished to have learnt more about the Disty. I felt like I lacked enough information about them and understood how daunting this was for the human characters. I liked that I learned what I did learn about the Disty as the characters did. On the other hand, it's said repeatedly that the Disty are extremely private & were so offended when asked probing questions in aid of understanding them that I wondered if they were really interested in diplomacy or transaction at all. They seemed to feel they knew everything about humans (they didn't as admitted by one near the end) but didn't want to share anything about themselves but wanted to hold everyone to their expectations and rules. I don't know why humans have agreed to this situation, as it's not clearly laid out what they're getting out of these arrangements. If I'm honest, I was completely turned off and offended by the feckless leaders the humans appointed. It wasn't even that they were too deferential to the Disty (I didn't have enough information to make that assessment) it's that they were completely ineffectual in every situation they were presented with. They were more worried about their personal position than in actually helping anyone or doing anything that might be considered work. It wasn't a surprise view of some politicians but it was a reminder of how much it irritates me. While the Disty frustrated me, I still thought there might be something I was missing with their actions and demands. There was no question about the political humans on Mars or Earth. I love a good political dig in, in my science fiction so I hope there are some worthy of their positions in future books.
As with the other books, there's a solution that works out and the case is solved by our heroes so no real surprise there but still a solid story and I still want to spend more time in this universe. So, I will do. Recommended.