This week, Picard brings Worf and Troi together to solve the mystery of a suspicious death, but it’s not quite the match made in heaven it will be a few years from now. As the investigation drags on, Wesley becomes the boy who knew too much, Beverly becomes the mother who knew too little, and Data gets a turn on the other side of the witness stand. Have the Kreel calmed down enough to gain Federation support? Has Worf overstepped a critical parental boundary? Have I finally become good at solving detective stories? All this and more in Contamination, a book that quite aptly could use a significant clean-up.
This week, while Riker plays undercover spy, Data plays third base. With the Priority One message not going to him and having to put the Enterprise in park in case Riker gets deep in it, Picard isn’t quite sure what to do with all this free time. How did Riker get into jazz? How would this book be different if Data read the Baseball Prospectus? What did Michael Jan Friedman get right and wrong about the state of baseball in the 21st century? It’s the book that’s handed out for free by the Church of the Center Field Bleachers.
(Hey there, readers, just a quick note prior to this review. Star Trek books rarely get too intense to merit content warnings, but there is a pretty brutal depiction of physical abuse in this book that is mentioned in this review. So, just a heads-up.)
This week, we return to one of the least revisited eras of Trek for a whodunit with the second-string team. An overbearing seductress causes problems for her daughter and her ex; the ship’s guests have a Gordian knot of ideas about harmony and balance and honor that need untangling; and a spy is sneaking around the ship trying to sabotage the negotiations. Why would Spock allow his captain to use a program he knows is unfinished? Have these people somehow not heard of shapeshifting? What is the Enterprise’s porn collection like? Does it actually have one? It’s the book that will at least have no trouble qualifying for the HOV lane.
I’m going to level with you: I’m not very good at crime procedurals. Ask my wife. We can be sitting watching an episode of Law & Order: SVU or what have you and she’ll have the killer figured out before the theme song. I’m not nearly as sharp as she is, so I sort of let events wash over me, and then at the big reveal I’m usually just like, “Oh, okay.” So the fact that I solved the central mystery of The Vulcan Academy Murders with nearly 200 pages still left to read does not reflect well upon it.