The first volume was a quality mix of worldbuilding, futuristic police procedural, and characterization that was undermined in the end by a climax that relied on the tired “talking killer” trope. For better and worse, you get more of the same here when detectives Ristovych and Dietrich take on the case of who killed star gridlocker Cathy Kuan. Writer Antony Johnston continues to flesh out the world of the Fuse in interesting ways, with this arc’s emphasis on the sport of gridlocking -- racing magnetic bikes across the station’s solar panels -- being just one example of how he does it. In addition, we also find out more about the station’s history, current political situation, the relationships between the various law enforcement divisions, and even terrorist organizations woven into the story in a virtually seamless manner. The “whodunit” aspect of this book is also handled quite well with the killer’s identity a mystery until the end, while the reveal makes perfect sense in light of what has come before.
However, it’s in the reveal that the story makes the same kind of mistake it did last time. Instead of a talking killer, we have a talking cop who goes on at length about how all of this fits together. It’s also annoying to see that, in spite of this cop’s demonstrated competence in this volume, a rather dumb mistake is made which allows the killer to escape for a moment of cheap drama. Disappointing, but the story does get back on track in an intriguing manner with its final pages. Up until this point, the reason Dietrich came to the Fuse has been a bit of a mystery -- one that not even his partner can crack. Not only do we find out just why he transferred to this place, but it’s also shown that he has made a critical error in his approach. Namely, assuming that Ristovych isn’t savvy enough to pick up on the fact that there’s something her partner isn’t telling her. Seeing that particular bit of drama being fleshed out, in addition to more worldbuilding, is enough for me to start anticipating the next volume. Who knows, maybe it won’t have a talking “whatever” distracting from the climax.