Roc, April 2005, 6.99, 384 pp.
In the far distant future, the moon and Mars have been colonized although the red planet is controlled by the alien Disty. All the different alien and human species belong to the federation and each member must obey all the laws of all the species or suffer the consequences. On Mars the dead body of a human is found when the Disty are excavating the ground; according to their laws they are contaminated and blame the humans for what they think is their deliberate deception.
Aisha Costard, forensic anthropologist, comes from Earth to Mars to examine the body before traveling to Armstrong Dome on the moon to meet the retrieval artist Miles Flint in the hopes that he can identify the corpse. On Mars, a mass grave is found underneath where the skeleton was found. The Ditsy go berserk tearing the planet apart in order to find a place to live. Miles looks for a solution that will end the possibility of war between the humans and the Disty knowing if he fails, humanity will be slaughtered.
The negotiations and diplomatic maneuvering of the two races to avoid an all out conflict is similar to the 1970s roundtable Viet Nam negotiations.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner