This review was first published by Booklist on February 17, 2023.
In the ninth installment of his Alex Benedict series (after Octavia Gone, 2019), McDevitt changes things up a bit, introducing the possibility of intelligent aliens that aren’t long gone. An exploratory mission to the Orion Nebula uncovers an isolated village of technological humanoids on an inhabited planet, but a follow-up mission finds the village has disappeared without a trace. Without an explanation for its vanishing, many believe the whole thing is a hoax. But Alex, Chase, Gabe, and Chase’s old friend Robbi Jo (who was a member of the original mission that discovered the village) set out to solve the mystery. McDevitt has been labeled “cozy science fiction” and the description is apt: his beloved characters are pleasant and reasonable, with little conflict and good intentions all around. Crises reliably resolve with no lasting damage done. The reward of this book is the compelling central mystery and the continued exploration of the universe McDevitt has constructed. It may not be the most dramatic or exciting of his works, but fans will find what they’re looking for with this one.