Following up on the inventive Of Tangible Ghosts
, L.E. Modesitt Jr. takes us back to his balkanized, techno-colonial vision of America, an alternate history in which the English colony at Plymouth failed long ago and New France, Columbia, Quebec, and the Mormon state of Deseret scheme and scrap for control of the continent and its resources. A land of dirigibles and difference engines, Modesitt's eerily refined world is compelling and coolly original, a place where you still drive to work in a car--albeit steam-powered--but think nothing of waving good morning to the zombies raking leaves off your lawn.
The protagonist of Tangible Ghosts, college professor and former secret agent Johan Eschbach, is back in this espionage thriller, now married to world-class singer and fellow former spy Lysette duBoise. Amidst intrigue and having barely survived an attempt on their lives, the two head off to Salt Lake City after Lysette is invited to sing there by Deseret's Mormon government. Of course nothing is quite as it seems: the situation quickly becomes complicated as Austro-Hungary tries to derail any cooperation between Columbia and Deseret, and a fanatic splinter group kidnaps Lysette to force Eschbach to summon the ghost of the Revelator, no less than Joseph Smith. With its smooth and measured action and its novel and well-developed characters and setting, Ghost of the Revelator is a rich, rewarding read. --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
Like the portions of pasta, chocolate and wine that figure heavily in the diet of retired spy?now amateur chef and university professor?Johan Eschbach and his diva wife, Llysette, too many themes weigh down the fragile story line of Modesitt's new installment in the couple's battle with evil bureaucracy in a contemporary alternative North America. Eschbach's singular expertise with the "ghost technology" introduced in Of Tangible Ghosts now involves him and Llysette in dastardly plotting among the nations of New France, Mormon-dominated Deseret and Dutch-settled Columbia, all scheming to replace their steam-driven economies with syn-fueled military might. Intriguing ethical issues of ghost raising and zombie-izing seem to evaporate here, because Modesitt gets bogged down in environmentalism, two-career marriage angst, the eternal professorial woes of apathetic students and conniving administrators and the perils of an alternative Latter Day Saint theocracy. Too dependent on its predecessor for the comfort of new readers, Eschbach's current adventure is flavored minimally with science, limited chiefly to dirigibles and Stanley Steamers, while Llysette's pseudo-French dialogue ("Little she holds back") is as cloying as too much Bearnaise. All told, Modesitt reveals little that's new or savory here.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.