On the Horizon – the spare man (Mary Robinette Kowal) – Unpopular Opinion Time!

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Here be me honest musings . . .

Title: the spare man
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Macmillian/Tor-Forge
Publication Date: Next Tuesday! (paperback & e-book)
ISBN: 978-1250829177
Source:  NetGalley

The Spare Man

I love this author’s work and yet this was a complete miss for me.  The short version is that privilege and money solve everything in the novel.  The longer version is that the individual elements didn’t work when mixed together.

For example, I liked that the main character, Tesla, suffers from both chronic pain and PTSD.  I liked the inclusion of a service dog.  I enjoyed the setting of a luxury cruise liner in space.  I loved that there was an extra dead body but everyone is supposedly accounted for.  I liked that Tesla’s spouse, the detective, is a suspect and is locked up leaving her to solve the crime and save him.  I liked the concept of Tesla dealing with her lawyer in space and having to account for the time lag.  I enjoyed how the future dealt with gender and identity.  And I absolutely loved the author’s notes behind the novel.

Sadly, I think what the author was going for fell spectacularly flat.  Tesla wants to care about the poor but once her secret identity is blown she throws her name, money, and attitude around like crazy.  Her PTSD and pain seem to fluctuate in direct relation to what is needed in the storyline and her internal computer is real convenient.  The police force on board is so stupid that they all came across as villainous caricatures and botch everything to further the plot.  I got tired of all of the focus on drinking.  Ditto for the romance elements when there is a murder investigation going on.  Tesla has a service dog that is not actually used correctly to do its job but always seems to be off-duty to be petted.  How the spouse is dealt with didn’t work at all and Tesla is always looking to him for validation.  Tesla doesn’t seem to actually use deductive reasoning well and “solves” the crime by accident.  There are several red herrings and a ridiculous solution to the murder.  Seriously how climax and ending happened were laughable.

I honestly spent the entire book waiting for the magic moment where the story would click for me and I would fall in love.  This didn’t happen and I am heartbroken.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling—and keep the real killer from striking again.

To visit the author’s website go to:
Mary Robinette Kowal – Author

To buy the novel please visit:
the spare man – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:
Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author
ghost talkers (Captain’s Log – Historical Fantasy)
the lady astronaut from mars – Book 0.5 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)
the calculating stars – Book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)
the fated sky – Book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)


3 thoughts on “On the Horizon – the spare man (Mary Robinette Kowal) – Unpopular Opinion Time!

  1. I’m sorry that this one missed you so completely, Cap. It’s miserable when a much-anticipated book completely bombs… It’s definitely on my TBR list as I’ve loved her previous work – so I hope I have better luck bonding with the characters and plot twists.


  2. I’m looking forward to trying this one, but I’m a bit concerned that since I have never seen The Thin Man that I’ll miss references and some parts will fall flat for me. Interestingly, though, I already have a hit & miss reading relationship with Kowal, so my expectations aren’t super high. (Maybe that will help?)


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