Book Review: Echo

Book five of the series is set on the planet of Rimway eight thousand years in the future, antiquity dealer Alex Benedict and his assistant Chase Kolpath deal in the assorted flotsam of ancient human civilizations. When Benedict is put on the trail of a curious stone tablet incised in an indecipherable language, he begins investigations into the slab’s background and discovers a link to Sunset Tuttle. Long regarded as a crackpot, Tuttle was ridiculed for his insistence that there are other intelligent species in the universe.

While working as a spaceship pilot Rachel Bannister saw something on one of her voyages which was so disturbing it still affected her some twenty-eight years later. Bannister’s relatives spirited the mysterious stone away before Benedict can get it but that doesn’t  prevent him from searching for and researching it. Assassination attempts attest to the importance of the artifact and do nothing to deter Benedict’s determination to find out if Tuttle really did find the evidence of other civilizations he sought for so long and if he did, why didn’t he proclaim it to the galaxy.

There is a canned feeling to this as illustrated by the repetitive character descriptions, mindless murder attempts and minor plot points. While the technologies and cultural references are solid, the character responses lack depth. The series is taking a dark, more depressive turn and it is McDevitt’s strong world building that makes this story an adequate sci-fi read though it could have been so much more.

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