This is almost a pure police story with Vienna investigating a mystery in the old city beneath the surface of the planet. Where listeners might have expected the story to jump around (as it did for the first boxset) this follows on from Tabula Rasa and it is refreshing to hear Chase Masterson’s bounty hunter/assassin (and now cop?!) with a companion character of her own . This is something that worked well in the first story The Memory Box where John Banks fulfilled some of this role with the character of McGinnis.
This new companion is the richly created Lieutenant Jexie Reagan and writer Cavan Scott has provided a fascinating character with a rich backstory and even a Blake’s 7 style inhibitor chip all of her own. Vienna has to be on her toes to shine in a story that seems to be all police work and it isn’t until she enters the undercity that the mysteries start to expand. Scott saves a few more twists to keep listeners gripped as the story unfolds.
The action is darker than we have become used to and this is a less cerebral tale than others; this darkness is welcome and may go someway to help this intriguing series forge its own identity, something still not entirely clear.
Towards the end Vienna has to make a gruesome decision any listener should wince at and, with Jexie’s involvement, draws matters to a close. The humour of the first story has been left behind for a story about relationships between cops. Fascinating stuff
Verdict: Working with a partner may be new territory for Vienna, but the setup works; let’s hope this isn’t a one-off. 7/10