Pocket Books, out now
Twenty years after their last encounter, Jim Kirk is more than a little surprised to run into Leonore Karidian once more – and perturbed when her arrival heralds the start of a very familiar murder spree…
Writing a Star Trek standalone novel isn’t as easy as a lot of people seem to believe, as fan fiction – and even, unfortunately, some of the professionally published stuff – has proved over the years. There’s a fine balance to be handled between slavish adherence to the intricate continuity that has been established and charting a new course for a novel without it feeling impossible that Kirk and his colleagues could possibly fit in yet another new story. Greg Cox handles this aspect well, setting his story in the period between the fifth and six movies, with Sulu still on board the Enterprise-A prior to heading off on the Excelsior, but acknowledging the passing of time in some subtle ways – notably the clear maturation of some of the characters.
Foul Deeds Will Rise draws its title from the same Shakespeare play as the original series episode The Conscience of the King, and it’s an unashamed sequel to that – something that sadly isn’t reflected in the cover art. It sees many of the same players reunited on the Enterprise – Kirk and his command crew, Leonore Karidian and even Kevin Riley, now an ambassador the UFP. When a peace mission is sabotaged and deaths occur in ways that seem like a rerun of Karidian’s killing spree on the original ship, everyone – even, sensibly, Karidian herself – isn’t sure if she’s responsible.
It’s a detective story in the same mould as the sixth movie, as the command crew try to discover the truth, during which investigation elements that appear unrelated (although you know that they can’t be) are unearthed. Cox sends Spock and Scotty off on their own separate plotline, dealing with weapons of mass destruction, thereby removing their knowledge from the collective pool, but tying the two threads together for the climax.
Verdict: The highest praise I can give this is that it feels like a story from the Star Trek TV series that we would have got in 1987 had Gene Roddenberry decided to keep chronicling the adventures of Kirk and co. on the small screen. Not trying to fill in whole swathes of the heroes’ timelines, dropping in lovely nods to the past (there’s a Horta engineer with a key role to play), this is a refreshing piece of pure Trek. 10/10