Thursday, December 4, 2014

Foul Deeds Will Rise

Star Trek: The Original Series
Foul Deeds Will Rise by Greg Cox
Release date: November 25th 2014
Read November 28th 2014

Previous book (The Original Series): The More Things Change (e-book)

Next book (The Original Series): Savage Trade

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Spoilers ahead for Foul Deeds Will Rise!

From the back cover:
2288. The U.S.S Enterprise-A is on a vital peacekeeping mission in a remote solar system beyond the boundaries of the Federation, where two warring planets—Pavak and Oyolo—are attempting to end years of bitter conflict. Crucial peace talks are being conducted aboard the Enterprise, even as Starfleet weapons inspectors oversee the disarmament process. Losses and atrocities on both sides have left plenty of hard feelings behind, so Captain James T. Kirk has his work cut out for him, even as he unexpectedly runs into a disturbing figure from his past: Lenore Karidian.
Twenty years ago, the deadly daughter of Kodos the Executioner tried to kill Kirk, but she has since been declared sane and rehabilitated. Kirk wants to give her the benefit of the doubt and a second chance at life, but when a mysterious assassination threatens the already fragile peace process, all clues point toward Lenore–and the future of two worlds hangs in the balance.

Notable Quote:
"What we want is the truth," he said emphatically. "Nothing more, nothing less." 
"But truth is often just a matter of appearances. All the world's a stage, remember, and all we men and women merely players." She kept staring at her raised hands. "If I am typecast as a killer, what does it matter who I truly am behind the greasepaint ... or what parts I might have foolishly dreamed of playing?"
- Lenore Karidian, questioned about a murder, responds to Captain Kirk's inquiry.

My thoughts:

Can a murderer be rehabilitated? To what extent do past actions have an impact on future behavior? Or, more specifically, what impact do those actions have on the perceptions of others when it comes to behavior? These questions and more are examined in Greg Cox's Foul Deeds Will Rise.

Lenore Karidian, convicted murderer, now supposedly rehabilitated.
Lenore Karidian, the daughter of the infamous Kodos the Executioner (see "The Conscience of the King," TOS), is working as a Federation aid worker on the devastated world of Oyolo in the midst of peace talks between that planet and neighboring Pavak. Captain Kirk invites Lenore aboard the Enterprise in an attempt to put past demons to rest, but when the Pavakian representative is discovered to have been killed, Lenore becomes a prime suspect. Given her past murders of seven innocent people, as well as her attempted murders of Lt. Kevin Riley and Captain Kirk himself, it is somewhat understandable that she becomes a target of inquiry.

This is the one area in which the logic of the novel kind of falls apart for me. I have a hard time accepting that Captain Kirk would so quickly invite Karidian aboard. While hindsight is 20/20, and there is no way Kirk would have known that the murders would happen, I still believe that allowing Lenore aboard the Enterprise was very irresponsible. Perhaps I'm simply not as "good" or forgiving as Captain Kirk. Even if Lenore is not responsible for the murders, her mere presence serves as a distraction in the investigation, diverting attention away from other possible suspects. I found myself agreeing with Kevin Riley, now a Federation ambassador: allowing Lenore Karidian aboard the Enterprise while the sensitive negotiations were taking place was a mistake.

Kevin Riley, now a Federation Ambassador, has grown far beyond the young, green Lieutenant from The Original Series' first season.

This minor nitpick aside, Foul Deeds Will Rise was very enjoyable on several levels. Whereas most TOS novels are set during the classic five-year mission, this one is set two decades later, in the period between Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Greg Cox, the ever-impressive font of Trek continuity knowledge, continues his tradition of making numerous small references to events in the lives of the Enterprise crew. Setting the story during this period serves to widen the pool from which his references can be drawn. Additionally, setting the novel in this period lends a feeling of freshness to the story. Not many stories use this time period, and a change from the norm is always welcome.

Star Trek's late movie era has a particular look and feel that Foul Deeds Will Rise managed to capture quite well. For one thing, the crew is much more seasoned and at-ease with each other. Greg Cox managed to write the interactions among Kirk's crew in a manner that made this story feel right at home in the period around The Final Frontier.

Greg Cox uses a number of literary devices to very good effect in his novels. One such device is known as "Chekhov's Gun." The name comes from a quote by playwright Anton Chekhov, who said, "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." In Foul Deeds Will Rise, there is a very apparent "Chekhov's gun," and it turns out to be "Chekov's Sneeze." Watch for Pavel Chekov's allergic reaction to be a seemingly minor inconvenience that turns out to have a much larger impact on the plot!

Speaking of Chekov, it was a lot of fun to see him in his role as chief of security in this novel. Although he supposedly had this role in the films, we never really got a chance to see him shine in the job. The closest we got was Star Trek VI, in which he investigates the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon. However, the entire crew was involved in that investigation. In Foul Deeds Will Rise, we get a more detailed look at how Chekov has really grown into his role as security chief.

In Foul Deeds Will Rise, we see Chekov acting in his role as Chief of Security of the Enterprise.

Final thoughts:

Foul Deeds Will Rise was a fun read, with plenty of action, suspense, and the high quality of storytelling we've come to expect from Greg Cox. Making ample use of the back catalog of Star Trek stories and tropes, Foul Deeds Will Rise is one of the better Original Series novels to be published in some time. My final rating for this novel is four stars out of five. A lot of fun to read, and one that deserves a place on your bookshelf!

More about Foul Deeds Will Rise:

Also by Greg Cox:

My next read:

Next week features my review of an older Next Generation novel: Intellivore by the supremely talented Diane Duane!

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