Sunday, November 13, 2022

A Blessing of Unicorns (Sub-Inspector Ferron Mysteries #2), by Elizabeth Bear (author), Zehra Jane Naqvi (narrator)

Audible Originals, October 2020

Sub-Inspector Ferron and her partner get a relatively rare summons to, not come to police headquarters, but to join an immersive virutal reality replay of a citizen's recent visit. A virtual reality influencer star came in to report that she is being stalked online by someone threatening her with death if she goes online. And if she doesn't go online, of course she can't do the influencer work that provides her livelihood. It's not just an empty threat; another influencer, her close friend, was getting similar threats and has now disappeared.

But by the time Ferron and her partner get back to the station, the woman who had originally accepted protective custody has changed her mind and left, believing the stalker could have hacked the police computer system. When they go looking for her, they find, instead, a herd of tiny, bio-printed unicorns.

When they go looking for the other missing young woman, they find another herd of tiny, bio-printed unicorns. Both herds have to be taken to the exotics section of Animal Control, and then they have to get back to figuring out the significant connections between the two young women, the connections that will lead to the person who has either killed or kidnapped them. It strikes Ferron that among all the different sponsorship items they had received to feature in their online activities, each of the women had received very expensive bioprinters. And a herd of tiny, bio-printed unicorns is about the same mass as an adult woman. 

It's not long before she has a new line on the investigation, an unpleasant realization she'll have to venture into the artificial reality world of these young influencers, and an even more unpleasant new argument with her mother--whose high-quality archive of all her online AR adventures Ferron has stopped paying for because she simply couldn't afford it. The complications of her family life intertwine with her dislike of AR, her complicated relationship with her mother and with the rest of her family in the kin-block she lives in, and a painful encounter with her own weaknesses.

In two novellas, Ferron has done an impressive amount of character growth. It's an intriguing mystery, solid world-building, and solid character development, too.


I bought this audiobook.

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