By: David Pedreira
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
You’d never be able to tell from the theme of this blog, but I really love a good mystery story. When I learned about the murder mystery on the plot of Gunpowder Moon I was instantly intrigued. Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira is a murder mystery steeped with politics and whose implications that could lead to war.
Gunpowder Moon is more than a classic murder mystery. It is the first murder on the moon, a murder that could spark off war. Caden Dechert is in charge of the helium-3 mining operations on the Sea of Serenity, the energy source used by most of Earth’s fusion reactors. When one of his staff gets murdered, all eyes are on Dechert’s team. For while Dechert and his team remain blissfully uninvolved with Earth politics tensions between nations grow ever higher, and the murder of a lunar miner sets off fears of a possible land grab by foreign powers. War is imminent, a killer is still on the loose, Marines have overtaken his station in anticipation of a war with China, and the politics and war Dechert left far behind.
The mystery itself is rather straightforward. One of the miners under Dechert is murdered, killed by a bomb. Dechert, haunted by losing so many of his men while a Marine during the war, must find the killer before the Marines sent to his station begin another war that could otherwise be avoided. There aren’t too many suspects, even considering the other mining stations run by other countries. While it might be easy for some readers to guess who the perpetrator is, especially since the cast is not an overly large one, the story unfolded very well and kept me guessing.
Dechert’s attitude played a large part in why I loved this book so much. He is a character of contradictions, which is something I always enjoy. While Dechert doesn’t believe that anyone at the Chinese mining station not too far away are the culprits as the US government wants to believe, he states that he doesn’t want to even think about his own crew murdering one of their own. Both cannot be true, of course. Ultimately it isn’t even the murder itself which drives Dechert the most, but the deep desire to not see war again, especially after fleeing to the moon to escape earthly politics forever.
This leads to one of the books greatest strengths. As fun as the murder mystery and moon base setting is, it is the world building where the book really shines. Life on the Moon is harsh, requiring cooperation from every station regardless of the country to which they belong. Things on Earth are different. Earth is still recovering from years of war, political upheaval, energy crises, and climate crises. Tensions are rising between nations. The moon bases and their operators who were once seen as saviors or heroes to a dying world are now simply seen as mining operations under a government arm, just another set of pawns and just another landscape that can be fought over both economically and physically.
There is a real sense of time in this book. Politics both current and prior are discusses, sometimes in great detail. The Earth spoken of in the book does not feel like the same Earth that Dechert left.
Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira really scratched the itch for a good mystery story. If you like murder mysteries, near future sci-fi, and politics this is the book for you!