Blood Enemies (Under Jurisdiction)
by Susan R Matthews
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476782164
Date: 04 April 2017 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Andrej Koscuisko has a tortured soul. He knows what his actions have made him. Once a promising neurosurgeon, he found his dark side as an Inquisitor. He has a talent for finding the truth, but he also takes extreme pleasure from the torture used to get answers. He has slipped from the grasp of the Jurisdiction and is now in Gonebeyond space. He freed his arms men and now must find them.
As part of his penance, Andrej is helping the Nurail at Safehaven's medical center. His need to speak with Stildyne and apologize sends him into space once more. His quest trips up the secret mission of the Malcontent.
The Malcontent are searching for the Angel of Destruction. A group which they are in conflict with. The Angel is terrorizing Gonebeyond space. They invade and sack colonies. In response to the Angel's actions, the crew of the Ragnarok are also searching for them. If the Angel's develop too far, they may be impossible to root out.
This is the seventh novel in the Under Jurisdiction series. As such it isn't the best entry point for new readers. The character development of Andrej is slow and without following the path laid out by Matthews, readers will not understand the actions and torment that Andrej feels as he goes back to a place he swore to leave forever.
The series focuses on the struggles of a government to stay in power through terror and the effect this has on the individuals who must enforce the edicts. The toll is high as seen by the high levels of suicide mentioned. Also as the Jurisdiction decentralizes, others seem to be taking advantage of the devolved power to reduce the number of people who carry the Writ.
This series continues to get better. It also helps that most of the action has moved away from the torture scenes in the first few novels. It is still there, but it is much moderated and seems less gratuitous. There is potential for additional stories or the series could end here. The final scenes offer some hope for Andrej, something he hasn't seen or felt in a long time. Further tales could focus on other characters or areas of the Jurisdiction. There is also the potential for stories based on the founding of the Jurisdiction or those set in the Gonebeyond as people work to build new lives.