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Deep Space Dragnet (Rich Weed Book 2) Kindle Edition
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As an aside, I am torn a bit because I don't know whether I want another "Rich Weed" book or another "Dagger and Steele" book more. I need the author be be cloned, I guess.
While the concept of a PI being called in to consult on a case of space piracy is silly (and is lampshaded in the story itself, then re-examined about mid-book), the characters and characterization start to develop better, the story is tighter and better written, and the concept plays out a bit better. Rich Weed in this book comes across as less obnoxious and, if not particularly well-experienced for the job at hand, then at least comes prepared and seems to be a bit of a better troubleshooter this time around.
With the possible exception of the Paige character's hypothesis for the pirates' motivations, revealed at the end of the story and therefore feeling a bit of a "forced possible twist" element, the logic the characters follow was solid, and some of the potential pitfalls of negative tropes (Tarja's origin could have had a VERY DIFFERENT and VERY NEGATIVE direction than it ended up going in) are avoided smoothly while still telling a mystery story. To be honest, I liked Rich's explanation for what was going on, and would have preferred seeing it play out, but its subversion was still satisfying. To use a metaphor, I would have preferred a fine steak, but I'll settle for the tasty burger.
Things seem to fit together a bit better; without getting into the nitty gritty technobabble, the explanation for FTL travel was simple enough to understand and carry the story. The capabilities of Rich's virtual personal assistant Paige was dialed back by putting her largely out of contact with the vast processing and data stores she had access to in the first book, and I think the series benefited. Rich solving problems without going through the motions gave the execution of the story more traction.
I feel more confident in the series at this point, and will likely give the third book a shot.