Tor, Nov 2003, 25.95, 432 pp.
There is bad blood between the earthlings and their Martian colonists so the promotion of the first Martian to a Peacekeeper officer job may be a token action, but one heck of a large token. However, Lieutenant Mike Brogue does not wish to be the Jackie Robinson of peacekeepers; he just wants to do his job and help change a broken system from within.
Mike resolved a potentially nasty situation when Freedom fighters held a mayor hostage with enough dynamite to place the city at risk if an assault occurred. Following that success, Mike travels to the Martian moon Phobos where the Agraria Research Station is under attack by a serial killer somehow residing beneath the surface dust. Mike takes command of hostile earth born Peacekeeper soldiers who resent a Martian in charge. He makes inquiries and learns that the station has made incredible leaps in nanotechnology including developing a deadly artificial life form that someone controls as a killing machine. However, Mike is not any closer to determining who would use murder to drive everyone off the moon or why?
PHOBOS is a great police procedural science fiction tale that that hooks the audience from the moment Mike works the mayoral abduction case until he completes the dangerous moon probe. The story line works for both genres as Mars and Phobos feel genuinely colonized and in dispute with the mother planet while the investigation seeks to uncover the villain behind the homicides. The key cast members whether they are from earth or Mars are fully devolved so that the audience receives a great tale reminiscent of Sean Connery's Outland.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner