This is the kind of story that could happen anywhere only this story happened on Mars. The setting is in our far, far distant future where humans have colonized Mars and several planetary moons not because we wanted to, but because we were driven off Earth!
Ozzy Mack is an archeologist which isn’t all that interesting except he’s also a wanted criminal. Archeology on Mars has been outlawed by the High Judge and the High Judge Council. Since humans arrived on Mars after they fled Earth, they have found Mars was once inhabited by a very advanced race. Even now, their technology shows up from time to time and sees to still work. That makes these artifacts very valuable. As a former Professor of Archeology, Ozzy would seek and find some of these artifacts as part of his research. Even after archeology was outlawed, he continued to do so until he was caught by the Mars Ministry Police (MMP).
He was placed in front of the High Judge who had almost dictatorial powers on Mars. It also turns out that the High Judge was a crook. He was the one that convinced the High Judge Council to declare archeology as a criminal activity. He now makes his wealth by selling ancient artifacts on the black market. Ozzy Mack came under the Judges scrutiny the first time he was caught at a dig sight and the Judge has now blackmailed Ozzy into working for him. He’s threatened to kill Ozzy’s daughter, Lilly, if Ozzy doesn’t bring the High Judge some very valuable artifacts. Ozzy is even forbidden to even see his daughter until the Judge says it’s OK and he hasn’t done that in over three years.
So, once again Ozzy is out at a dig only this time he has a young protégé with him named Jozi Ryan. Ozzy doesn’t know why he took on this young assistant, but she seems to be working out well and is very inquisitive about his current and former digs. Then the MMP show up and have Ozzy cornered. He can only get into his space ship and hope to out run the police except it turns out that Jozi is also a MMP agent. Once again, Ozzy is caught and brought before the High Judge.
It just so happens that Mars has been hit with a strange sickness that’s defied current medical technology. It is spreading from one doomed city to another without much being able to stop it. Historical documents also mentioned this plague and it might have been the cause of the previous civilization demise. There has only been fleeting mentions of a possible cure. And to make matters worse, the Dunrakee have established a foothold on Mars and are going to attack the Martian doomed cities sooner or later. These are the same aliens that attack Earth and destroyed almost everything while making the remaining humans fleet to Mars and other less hospitable places.
High Judge (Robert Baldwin) has a new job for Ozzy. He’s directed him to find the only possible cure to the Martian plague by using a cryptic Coptic tablet that was supposed to be written by the previous residents of Mars. It seems that the Judges son has come down with the plague so he’s determined to find a cure. Ozzy doesn’t feel the need to run off somewhere and maybe get killed since the cure seems to be underneath the doomed city now occupied by the Dunrakee!
That is until Ozzy finds out that his daughter, Lilly has also contacted the plague!
He’s once again paired with Jozi Ryan even though he knows she’s an MMP agent and only along to make sure Ozzy sticks to the mission. He doesn’t know how much time he has, but he does know that the plague works pretty fast so he has to do the same.
The writing in this book seemed kind of off. I don’t know how to capture what I was thinking as I read this book, but it just didn’t seem to “feel” right. Ozzy seems to be way, way too focused on his daughter Lilly even when she wasn’t sick. It seems that’s all he can talk about. Also, he’s kind of a wimp which isn’t the way a main character should be portrayed in most books. Jozi can whip his butt anytime she wants and does so on occasion. Still, it’s a pretty good story although a little predictable. This also appears to be the start of a new series, one that I’m not so sure interest me that much.