Review: Kristine Kathryn Rusch hunts for hidden clones in Duplicate Effort

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Say you've broken an alien law, and your offense is trivial in human eyes but grave to alien ones. Say Earth Alliance law requires that you be tried by the alien court, no matter how harsh or deadly its justice. Probably you'd Disappear.

But what if you received a large inheritance, or your family needed to contact you for some other reason? Then you'd want to be found by a Retrieval Artist.

Operating in a dangerous shadow world, Retrieval Artists should be alone. Once, Miles Flint was. Then he discovered his late ex-wife had cloned their dead daughter. Six times. The clones still live, and he is now parent to one of them, Talia.

Flint's running a covert campaign to destroy the corrupt lunar law firm involved in his late daughter's cloning. Then his ally, an investigative reporter, is murdered. She had a lot of enemies, but her death seems connected to the crooked firm. And Flint's clone-daughter has been secretly searching for her clone-sisters. It's an act that will lead the firm's ruthless senior partner straight to herself and Flint, and it may destroy them all: Flint and his six clone-daughters, known and unknown.

Duplicate Effort (Roc Books, $7.99) is the seventh and latest novel in Kristine Kathryn Rusch's genre-blending Retrieval Artist series. Though it has several prequels and a multi-strand storyline with several viewpoint characters, Duplicate Effort has clear prose, discretely distributed backstory and a self-contained plot. It's accessible and enjoyable for series newcomers.

Ironically, Duplicate Effort may be less pleasing to established fans of the Retrieval Artist series. There's hardly an alien to be seen, and Flint never Retrieves anyone; instead, he's protecting his daughter and investigating the murder. However, the mystery is unpredictable and absorbing and the characters are interesting and sympathetic. The longtime fan forewarned of the differences should enjoy Duplicate Effort.