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Deep Sky (Travis Chase) by Patrick Lee
Review by Drew Bittner
Harper Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0061958794
Date: 27 December 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Travis Chase and Paige Campbell have survived two adventures involving objects from the Breach--a rip in spacetime. Overseen by the supersecret organization Tangent, the Breach is the U.S. government's biggest secret...and mystery. Now, the televised assassination of President Garner launches Chase and Campbell into their biggest adventure yet, as the only clue points directly to the origin of the Breach itself.

When an Air Force officer triggers a missile designed to protect Washington DC from attack, turning it into a murder weapon aimed at the White House, the one clue left behind is a note that says, "See Scalar".

Those two words lead to the Breach, and a mystery from the anomaly's earliest days. Paige Campbell, whose father helped establish Tangent and secure the Breach (along with its nonstop delivery of weird technology from somewhere else), doesn't know what it means--which itself is strange. Paige and Travis visit the archives, only to discover that all references to "Scalar" have been torn out of the books. All they have to go on is a list of dates from nearly thirty years ago, along with a vague reference to Ruben Ward, who first heard the Breach voices (a cacophony of overlapping noises emanating from the rip) and seemed to go mad.

What they learn is that Ward managed to escape from his hospital bed and then vanished for months. Tangent spent billions of dollars in that time, supposedly investigating his whereabouts and activities, with nothing (now) to show for it.

Unfortunately for them, nobody seems to believe that the Tangent agents are in the dark; Paige and Travis are targeted by special forces, and the Breach itself is threatened by the new President's reckless gambit. If the two want to survive, and track down the last person who might understand what was really going on so many years ago, they'll have to rely on one of the Breach's most unusual objects: the Tap, which holds a fascinating and dangerous power.

On the other side of this harrowing obstacle course, however, is the real secret of the Breach--and why Travis Chase may be the most important man in human history.

Patrick Lee has delivered another fast-paced roller-coaster of a story in Deep Sky, the third (but hopefully not last) of his Breach series. Travis Chase has grown from a disreputable and unreliable protagonist into a strong and sturdy hero (even if some of that was reluctant), as Paige Campbell has likewise developed into a force to be reckoned with. Together, they're a dynamite couple, and Lee puts them through their paces, racing across the country to solve a thirty-year old mystery.

The antagonists are no less dangerous, either. This time, Chase and Campbell are opposed by no less than the President of the United States and the full force of the U.S. government. Even the considerable resources of Tangent, and its vaults full of Breach technology, are no match for that kind of firepower.

The mystery set up is well constructed, though it is less about following clues (because there really aren't any) than about figuring out how to investigate. The Tap allows them to pursue an investigation through impossible means, but even at that, not all the secrets can be learned easily. Scalar itself is the notebook where Ward's wife jotted down his incoherent ramblings; now it appears that all of those statements are coming true, and the two heroes must learn what the ultimate outcome is meant to be. Of course, President Hart and his minions also want that knowledge, so that they can use knowledge of the future to benefit themselves.

The outcome is something no reader could guess, as the truth behind the Breach is finally revealed. Even so, though the story ends on something of a cliffhanger, there's a strong resolution and readers of the trilogy are rewarded with a powerhouse conclusion.

Fans of unusual SF will enjoy this series, its weird technology juxtaposed with today's chaotic political and scientific culture to make a fascinating gestalt. Lee's got a terrific premise, one that has lots of life in it beyond these three stories, and his growing readership will surely clamor for more.

Recommended.

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