Angel of Europa
by Allen Steele
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596064126
Date: 31 August 2011 List Price $35.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Angel of Europa follows Otto Danzig, the Zeus Explorer's arbiter, as he struggles to determine the guilt or innocence of Evangeline Chatelain, a bathysphere pilot, accused of killing two scientists on a dive deep into Europa's ocean. The women of the Jupiter expedition outnumber the men, but of the women, Evangeline is a magnet for the men. They all believe she killed the men. She claimed a large creature attacked the bathysphere, but only a blurred picture remained. She jettisoned the lower compartment with the scientists when one reported water coming through the observation blister condemning them to death to save her own life.
Otto had been put in hibernation to recover after an accident that had left him almost dead. The captain had not planned to revive him until the ship returned to earth, but with a suspected murder, she needs his services. No real evidence exists to prove Evangeline's guilt or innocence. Otto takes her to Europa to verify her story.
As they descend, he has some misgivings. Will he too end up dead or will he uncover evidence to confirm or refute her story? None of the unmanned probes have photographed any large creature. Their descent is only the second manned voyage below Europa's dense ice to the ocean depths. Answering whether Evangeline saw a large creature and feared for her life must be verified despite any personal risks. Too, he hopes to uncover a motive if one exists for what happened.
Steele offers an interesting view into the exploration of Europa and a possible future world of criminal investigation in space. Much of the danger derives from the hostile environment.
Subterranean has issued a number of novellas, each very different. They range from fantasy, humor, to science fiction. Most are by well known and award winning authors. Steele joins a stellar company.