“Two Suns at Sunset”

Gene Doucette

I really, truly, had no idea what I was in for with this book. And I absolutely loved it — devoured the whole thing in an evening, and promptly added the sequel to my wish list. I desperately want to know where the whole series is going, because it’s a wonderful mystery.

The setting feels near-feature, and has some things that are very clearly influenced by what’s going on in current events.1 Except for the whole “this isn’t Earth” thing, which combines with some of the linguistics and a few mentions of a distant-past Collapse, to have me think that it’s actually far-future, and we’re looking at a colony that’s building itself back up towards interstellar travel after a galactic-scale human civilization… well, collapsed. Which means that the founding mythology, and some of the hand-wavey end of the world prophecy stuff going on could, in fact, be leading up to some large-scale science fiction things. Hey, look at that, we’ve looped back around to “I desperately want to know where the whole series is going,” how about that.

Sitting on top of this wonderfully rich setting, though, is a very fun police procedural/murder mystery thing, and that is also a delight. A murdered monk, a cynical cop, his new upbeat rookie partner, it’s a hodgepodge of well-worn tropes and new twists, and it works so very, very well.

If any of this sounds interesting, please read the book — I greatly enjoyed it, and hope you will as well.2

  1. There’s a two-page interjection explaining a cryptocurrency that’s Definitely Not Bitcoin. To my knowledge, it’s fairly accurate, and highlights one of the key potential failings of the technology, while leaving out the primary failing of it. That said, this world apparently has nuclear power pretty figured out, which mitigates the energy concerns, so, I’ll allow it.
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer

I’d forgotten how much fun detective novels can be. Who doesn’t like trying to figure out a mystery? It’s a good bit of intellectual fun. And there’s something unique about being the reader – not only do you know what the detective knows, you also know what scenes are important and which ones weren’t. You know the difference between Checkov’s gun and… a regular gun.
Colt Coltrane takes place in an alternate-history setting, with the divergence having taken place sometime during WWII. There’s a brief mention of the fact that the U.S. never actually dropped an atom bomb, despite having the capability, and the Takahashi corporation, formed by someone who managed to escape from Japan to get back to the States, manufactures semi-sentient robots for police and military use. The aesthetic of the book falls somewhere between film noir and Lost in Space. It’s very interesting.
I’m definitely interested in the sequel that apparently exists, because I want to know what’s going on with Petey, and I think there’s plenty of room for expansion on some of the different things that appeared in this. Plus, with some of the stuff that happened with the background characters, it feels almost like the pilot to a TV show – kinda like Odd Thomas, actually.1
So yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to say. A gorgeous alternate-history setting, some fun robotics, and an interesting mystery at the heart of it. I recommend it. Go have a read.

  1. That’s not the best comparison, as Odd Thomas was a solo movie, but it was based on the first book in a series and it really felt like it could’ve made a nice spin-off TV show.