“The Caline Conspiracy” – by M.H. Mead

Cover ImageAfter a genetically manufactured cyber pet is found standing over its dead owner and creator, it is sentenced to be destroyed. Has the invention killed the inventor or is there a deeper conspiracy at work?

Previously, I’ve reviewed Fate’s Mirror on this site and gave it a 4.5 star rating as a highly enjoyable cyberpunk romp. The Caline Conspiracy, although seemingly a prequel to that story is quite a different book. The characters are shared and the timeline is earlier. However, this novel has more of a techno crime mystery feel to it. (Read review of Fate’s Mirror: here)

Aidra Scott, a woman whose earlier dreams of joining the police force were frustrated, struggles to make a living as a private investigator and takes on what seems to be a pointless case of proving a cyber canine innocent of the murder of its owner and inventor. And so we are invited into the futuristic world of the caline, cyber pets of the wealthy, genetically engineered in the labs of GeCreations.

A caline appears in Fate’s Mirror and it was interesting to see a diversion into this creature as a big business of the future. Equally interesting was the novel’s small interlude with the perficats, a competing genetically created pet. They only feature in one scene, but it was a rather entertaining one. I believe a detailed description won’t quite do it justice.

Aidra Scott is the same pragmatic and straightforward character from Fate’s Mirror. She has a spine and she gets things done. While the last novel featured Morris Payne, in this story he’s a background character – the hacker resource Aidra hires for cyber-geekery from time to time. He’s present frequently, but feels more like a purpose-built artificial intelligence than a character. I think the shift to Aidra as the main focus is part of what seems to pull this novel across the genre boundaries into new territory. While in the previous book we witnessed the cyber-freestyling of Payne, in this one we’re almost approaching hard-boiled territory.

Although novel length, this story felt more like a novella. It might have been that not alot of time was spent developing side characters. Enough of them were introduced, but they felt like well-placed props leaving the reader with an exposé on Aidra Scott investigating a case that has a few false trails but never felt particularly burdensome or complex. The reader even experiences a bit of Aidra’s personal journey: her history with her ex-husband, her relationship to her son Jon and her thoughts about artificial pets when compared to her love of real dogs.

As in all mysteries, there is a reveal or two and in the way of all whodunnits, the reader can line up suspicion with fact. I wouldn’t  be surpised if the bad guy was intuited by crime mystery readers quite early in the piece. I’m no afficionado and I had the culprit pegged in the first part of the book. However, it’s the why and how that provides the interest. Additionally some of the scenes toward the end have an action thriller feel as the final pieces fall into place.

I enjoyed The Caline Conspiracy. The perficats scene alone is worth the small price of admission and the sinister revelation manages to lend sufficient weight to the final chapters to give satisfaction.

Rating: 4/5

Price at the time of review: $3.95 US

Available: Smashwords,Amazon,Barnes & Noble,Kobo,Diesel

Author site: http://www.yangandcampion.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13555761-the-caline-conspiracy

This entry was posted in 4, Novel, Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “The Caline Conspiracy” – by M.H. Mead

  1. I reviewed the Caline Conspiracy last month – but I haven’t read Fate’s Mirror. Based on your comments here, I think I probably should pick it up :)

  2. Pingback: “Taking the Highway” – by M. H. Mead | Papyrus

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