Judgment at Proteus (Frank Compton)
by Timothy Zahn
Edited by James Frenkel
Cover Artist: Daniel Dociu
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322135
Date: 05 June 2012 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Judgment at Proteus concludes Zahn's Quadrail noir thriller series. It features Frank Compton, a former security agent, now working for the Chalwyn, an alien species, which seeks to halt the spread of the modhri, a hive mind that spreads via coral polyps and seeks to take over the galaxy. His faithful sidekick, Bayta, is a meld of human and Chalwyn with limited telepathic powers. Now a new aggressive species seeks to enslave all the races of the galaxy and only Frank can defeat them.
On arrival at the Fillian Proteus Station, the authorities arrest Frank for the murder of six Fillians on another world. Fortunately for Frank, a Nemut lawyer who traveled with him agrees to defend him. After Frank and Bayta had killed a Fillian accompanying a pregnant teen from Earth who seeks Fillian help with an unspecified genetic defect, they take over guardianship. She had been traveling with the dead Fillian, a Shonkla'raa descended from a group that once enslaved others and ruled the galaxy. They now seek to reclaim their heritage. They are interested in the child the girl carries.
Originally, the Chalwyn had hired Frank to stop or destroy the spread of the Modhri. Now, strange alliance form to prevent such a takeover including the Chalwyn and the Modhri. Frank must build new alliances against a more serious threat to the galaxy and to humans from the Shonkla'raa.
Frank never divulges his strategy to anyone including the reader. He taunts the enemy and outwits them at every turn. The technology is a curious mixture of the highly advanced and current, more limited aspects. Frank carries and uses his Beretta and one group of allies use nunchakus. The body count rises as innocents are killed when caught between Frank and his allies and the Shonkla'raa.
As always, Zahn delivers an action-filled story with a variety of narrow escapes for Frank, Bayta, and their friends. The Quadrail system plays a somewhat smaller role here than in the previous Quadrail novels (Night Train to Rigel, The Third Lynx, Odd Girl Out, and The Domino Pattern. He never explains where and how the Shonkla'raa managed to survive so long without detection. This volume ends the series, although Zahn may use the setting again.