The Ultra Big Sleep
by Patrick Swenson
Cover Artist: Kuldar Leement
Review by Mel Jacob
Fairwood Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781933846613
Date: 09 August 2016 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Ultra Big Sleep picks up a year after the conclusion of Patrick Swenson's The Ultra Thin Man. An alien race again tries to take over all humans. The Ultra Big Sleep continues the journey with the alien remnants that survived the last struggle along with new efforts by the aliens.
In the style of a detective noir, the novel features detective Dave Crowell and his partner Tem Forno, a Second Clan Helk. Helks are big, strong, hair-covered creatures. On an assignment to catch a photo of a cheating husband, Dave encounters Alex Richards who escapes only to be found dead elsewhere in the warehouse where the assignation took place. The word Ultra is tattooed on his neck. Ultras have been known to take over humans and even clone them.
The story is told from multiple viewpoints and shifts from one character to the other. Readers need to take care not to get whiplash and to keep all the strands in hand. Besides Crowell and Forno, it also includes Vanderberg Parr, a sniffer for a drug lord and an addict of RuBy (a highly addictive drug). Two drug lords are fighting to control the RuBy trade.
Crowell suffers bouts of unconsciousness, dredging up memories from the past and indications that the past he always accepted may be false. He is approached by an alien woman, a Memor, who seeks his help to find her father. She helps him recover some memories including ones of her father and a fatal event from Dave's past. Dave fears the Ultras have taken his father who disappeared years ago during an important gathering of Envoys and scientists.
Parr is troubled by doubts about his own identity. When he is informed he has a special role to play, he doubts the information. His RuBy addiction is gaining control over him, but he remains part of the drug supply chain.
Solving the decades old disappearance of the Memor woman's father and his own becomes an obsession for Dave. The search takes over his life.
Using the universe introduced in his earlier novel, Swenson tosses his characters into one crisis after another. The constant switching from character to character becomes frantic. He provides an ending, but one may feel there is more to come in this battle pitting the humans against aliens from another universe.
Swenson has sold a variety of short stories and edited Talebones magazine for fourteen years.