Well… Thanksgiving is over; the bird is a carcass, the pies are devoured, and crumbs, in empty tin-pans, are the only reminders of the bloated-joy they brought into my belly, the shoppers have gone home from the battlefields of malls and super stores, and the countdown to Christmas has begun-anew. For you here at home, I hope you all had a great holiday. I was glad to have a couple of days off, so that I could finish my new friend’s latest triumph, FOUL DEEDS WILL RISE; and – Greg Cox has once-again knocked one out of the park. I can always count on Greg to provide high-caliber entertainment and a story that is either, fresh out of the box, or – puts a new spin on something we’ve already visited in the past.
The latter is what you’ll find within the pages of FOUL DEEDS WILL RISE, as Greg Cox revisits some old ghosts from the episode The Conscience of the King and brings them
forward a couple of decades, in a post-The Final Frontier murder mystery, set aboard the Enterprise 1701-A. Of course, I was sold by the cover; they had me at the movie uniforms. (But, more on the cover, later…)
According to Greg’s acknowledgements, he happened to watch the aforementioned episode, last year, and he began to wonder what had happened to Lenore Karidian, as a result of her murder-spree aboard that period’s Enterprise; there, the kernels of an idea, and the shaping of this novel began.
The players: Pavak and Oyolo – two warring planets that are attempting to end years of bitter conflict; delegates from both planets come aboard the Enterprise to hammer-out the details of a truce. Federation Ambassador Kevin Riley, (once, a young lieutenant under Captain Kirk; as well as, his chief of staff at Starfleet HQ’s) has the formidable task of seeing the talks through to peaceful resolution. Then, with hostilities at a turning point, Lyla Kassidy (aka Lenore Karidian) is thrown-in; she’s been declared sane, free to live her life away from her bloody past, but murder seems to follow her at every turn. Captain Kirk and crew have their work cut out for them, alright, and – no one can be trusted. On top of that, there are hostages on both planets and a missing WMD that could cause the annihilation of millions.
Greg Cox knows his Trek! As always, his characters are solid, (‘talking-the-talk,’ as it were), the story is well-paced and sweeps the reader right in, and it’s strewn with references to various episodes, movies and novels; bringing in a slew of familiar species and characters, while creating two new ones and their representatives for this explosive tale. This is my favorite kind of ST adventure. Greg’s Ambassador Riley and ‘you can’t help but like her’ Lenore Karidian are spot-on, yet – they are written for this time period with seeming ease. It’s like going home for a family reunion and seeing friends, and – foes, from year’s past, and catching-up. Lenore claims to be ‘cured’ and you’re rooting for her, but – your trust is shattered; especially, when everything points to the contrary. An older, bearded Riley, still has his past-dealings with her, and – his family’s murder on Kodos, to contend with, while – showing that he has made considerable growth, in himself and his career, since his younger, oft-insubordinate days. But, at the same time, could he be a suspect? I loved reading the scenes with Kirk and Lenore, I could feel their conflicting emotions, as they walked on eggshells, while trying to bury the hatchet (so-to-speak). I did see one glitch: Kirk introduces ‘Commander’ Montgomery Scott to the Pavakian delegation. If I’m not mistaken, Scotty still held the rank of captain… Right? In Generations, he’s on the Enterprise B bridge wearing captain’s insignia on his uniform. (Trivia: The only-other captain to wear captain rank insignia on a non-command division uniform, was Krasnovsky, in Court Martial.)
I liked the humor that was laced-in, throughout, too; Uhura had a line that brought a genuine chuckle to my lips, (and – a Facebook-posting on it, as well. Greg, himself, joked: “I still can’t believe I got away with that line…”). I liked the character development; especially, in-regards to Chekov (as it sets us up for another murder mystery investigation he’ll lead down the road; namely – in The Undiscovered Country), and how far he’s come from that green ensign all those years ago. I liked the timing of the book and was completely surprised by the events in the closing chapters, (as, it’s a brilliant concept, taken from another TOS episode). Questions are asked, and – answered, in ways befitting any #GreatStarTrek tale: Do we truly know each other? Is it possible to shed our pasts, no matter what crimes we’ve committed, and live freely; having paid for those crimes with acts of heroism and sacrifice? Can we forgive others, or – ourselves?
One of my Facebook friends, Joe Giannetti, commented: “Wish there were references to the DC comics that were post-ST:V, pre-ST: VI.” So, I asked Greg about using references to comics, and – if he was even allowed to do that (per licensing restrictions). This is how he replied: “I’m not aware of any legal issues preventing us from referencing the various comics. It all belongs to CBS after all. We can lift what we can, and reference what we want, but we’re not obliged to remain consistent with the comics. And, honestly, it’s hard enough to stay consistent with the other 600 novels, without worrying about the comics, too.” I can just about imagine. It would take a ‘miracle worker’ to keep track of it all.
Now, about that cover… This was a first-time gig for my friends, Joe Corroney and Brian Miller. (Although, I must note, that cover design goes to Alan Dingman.) I saw some of the progression from Joe’s end; a sketch of Spock that Joe posted on his Facebook page, etc. I even had the honor of seeing the cover-art (without the title and text), when Joe visited us in September, at Salt Lake Comic Con, before it was released to the general public. (Being part of the press corps does have its advantages; but I’m grateful for Joe’s friendship, as well.) Known primarily for his work in Star Wars, Joe has made a name for himself with his exceptional Star Trek work, at IDW Comics. He and Brian are good friends, and, even-though this is their first novel cover, they have worked together on numerous collaborations. I know they were pretty-excited to get this opportunity, and it shows: this is a fantastic cover. I hope they get to work together for another, real-soon.
Overall, FOUL DEEDS WILL RISE ranks right-up-there as one of Greg’s best works, to-date; (however, after you finish reading this, give THE Q CONTINUUM trilogy, a try). I loved seeing the old faces from the past, I loved the ‘murder aboard the Enterprise‘ aspect, I loved joining our beloved crew on a movie-timeframe mission, I loved the crew interaction and growth, and I loved the ending. Greg Cox never disappoints, and he’s impressed this loyal fan, once-again. Can’t wait to see what he’s got planned next.
That’s it for me. Be sure to join Michael Clark and Roslyn Scoular on The Captains’ Table, as they interview Greg Cox on all things Trek. Also, be sure to check out IDW’s THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER; I’m a comic book cameo, a hobo in issue 5. You’ll know me by my hat, of course. Thanks, again, JK Woodward…
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone