Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at a time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Well, USUALLY reading one chapter. Last time two chapters flowed together so well I ended up reading them both. Today it looks like it may just be the one. The chapter is a bit longer and it has another of those blank pages between chapters. The layout still isn’t as bad as Op Center but I still don’t understand what’s going on. If this is ghostwritten by a longtime author like Ron Goulart you’d think the pacing and chapter breaks would be better. I don’t think he contributed as much as some of the sites think since this feels more like someone’s first novel, which in William Shatner’s case it is.
At any rate Jake found at least someone he knows isn’t avoiding him, in jail, dead, or otherwise unreachable. Who is Gomez and what ties does he have to Jake’s current situation, if any? Let’s dive in and find out.
I’m guessing this is one of those situations where we learn something new in one chapter and the backstory in the next. Our new castmate is Sid Gomez, Jake’s former partner before the deep freeze. We actually learn more about him than we initially did about Jake. Gomez is on his third wife and has a thing for blondes. He clearly has a Latino accent and confirms he’s of Latino origins, using the occasional Spanish word so we know he’s Mexican in ethnicity. He’s also the one who got Jake out of the freezer by convincing his new boss that Jake can be a big help on his current case. We’ll meet Walter Bascom of the Cosmo Detective Agency eventually.
So Jake is still believed to be guilty, but swears that although he used Tek he didn’t sell out their case to the TekLords. (Not to be confused with the Time Lords of course, and TekLords would be the name of the next book in the series.) The case involves a woman he used to know, but naturally we don’t get the details of how they know each other–outside of mentioning they used to sleep together. “Warbride” is a former guerilla leader who during Jake’s icy siesta became a full on revolutionary leader. I thought that was more of a South American thing but I’m a small town New England boy. I haven’t been further south than the end of my state. Apparently the region she controls was the crash site for an electronics scientist, Doctor Leon Kittridge, and his daughter, Beth. Beth was working on something with Bascom and the insurance company wants confirmation that they’re dead but previous agents have disappeared and the region’s greenhouse control people have also gone incommunicado. This and the 3D photos are our “we’re in the future” along with a cop who could have had info to help Jake being shot with a “lazrifle”. Is “laser rifle” really that hard to say? Also, the cop’s body was microwave cremated because normal cremation just wasn’t good enough for THE FUTURE! I love worldbuilding as a creator myself but sometimes this book get silly. Anyway, this was the incident that sent Gomez (I’ll use his last name because the book does, just to make further sure you know he’s Latino) out of the police force and to the Cosmos Detective Agency.
Since Jake knows Warbride, and I can’t wait to hear how a cop in California ended up bedmates with a guerilla leader in Mexico, he’s hoping, or at least using that hope to get Jake paroled, that Jake can gain her help in finding the Kittridges. Jake’s not sure if he’s going to accept. He’ll let Gomez and Bascom know tomorrow (next week for us), but at least Gomez managed to shame Jake into not returning to his Tek-induced fantasy. So there’s a victory.
This is one of the better chapters thus far. Silly “we’re in the future” stuff aside we get a lot more information in one shot that we have in most chapters to this point as to the part of the story we’re here for. Future tech is fun and all but we’re here for a sci-fi crime story, not a sci-fi catalog. Next time we don’t get to meet Bascom but we do finally get to see Jake in action.