Favorite Quote: “This trip just gets weirder and weirder”
Reviewed by Tori
Now on its final voyage, the historical steamboat Natchez is known for her super-powered guest entertainers. But after the suspicious death of a crewmember, retired NY police detective Leo Storgman decides to make this incident his personal case. His findings only lead to a growing number of questions. Is there some truth behind the ghostly sightings of the steamboat’s first captain Wilbur Leathers? What secret does the current captain seem to be hiding? And could the Natchez be ferrying mysterious – and possibly dangerous – cargo onboard? (Amazon)
Fans new and old will enjoy the 24th installment of the Wild Cards-a series set in New York and based on an alien virus that transformed human genetics and eventually recessive to create superheroes and villains. Some victims died, others experienced physical or psychic changes. Referred to as aces, deuces, and jokers; aces got useful powers, deuces minor entertaining abilities, jokers refer to those who were disfigured or disabled. Those who have read the series, which started in 1987, know that almost every book is written by a collaboration of authors and advances in true time.
Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin, Mississippi Roll features the writing talents of Stephen Leigh, David D. Levine, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Cherie Priest, and Carrie Vaughn.
This series is arranged by numerical order and by groups/tribes. You can read in any order you choose but I do recommend reading the first three books in order to understand the world and character base.
Mississippi Roll start us off in 1950’s New Orleans, LA. We are taken aboard the steamboat The Natchez and introduced to its owner and captain, Wilbur Leathers. We learn Wilbur was murdered and his ghost finds itself trapped indefinitely on the Natchez. He is able to manifest with steam and uses it to his advantage through the story. We then bounce into the present and tag along with a government fraction of aces (Fort Freaks) who have been called in to help when a freighter enters the port illegally with a hull packed with joker refugees escaping persecution. When the refugees learn they will not be allowed into the US, they revolt and this is where the two storylines converge into and the real adventure begins.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the series as a whole. While I don’t wait on needles and pens for each release, they are compelling bits of escapism with entertaining and solid plotlines, vivacious personable characters, and snappy amusing narrative. The superhero theme is strong as Martin and the other authors use their pens to address the past and present political and social issues. Homosexuality, racism, bigotry, and the current plight of refugees are seen as this group hammers their stories into shape.
The story stays centered on the Natchez and revolves around the crew and certain central figures who inhabit it. Very character oriented and far more romantic than one would expect, the story has an appealing melodramatic soap opera feel to it We meet a pair of deuces who entertain on the ship and one who almost loses their life when their need to be a hero almost gets them killed. A live jazz band of jokers, a musician with a secret, an ace operative whose last mission left them almost destroyed, and much more all get their stories told while the main storyline builds in the background. Some familiar faces are present-I was thrilled to see Billy Ray and his wife – along with some new ones whose personalities only add to the unpredictability and enjoyment.
The ending not only wraps up the main conflict, but also the multiple plotlines that popped up throughout the story. Quite the dramatic finish, everything weaved together so seamlessly, I was amazed at the flawless application of six unique voices. The Wild Card series is a treat for sci-fi fantasy adventure seekers who enjoy campy space opera that is built and contained within our own world.