Thursday, November 10, 2022

In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns (Sub-Inspector Ferron Mysteries #1), by Elizabeth Bear (author), Zehra Jane Naqvi (narrator)

Audible Originals, October 2020

A half-century in the future, in Bangalore, Police Sub-Inspector Ferron is called to the home of scientist with a checkered past, who has been reported missing. What she finds is a toroidal mass of meat that, when DNA tested, is identified as the missing scientist. She also finds the only witness, his parrot-cat--a genetically engineered talking cat.

Whose memory, unfortunately, has apparently been wiped. Ferron talks to the cat, gives her food, and calls her Chairman Meow, and the cat imprints on Ferron. This isn't what Ferron intended or inspected, with no previous expereince with parrot-cats. Besides, she already has a pet--a domesticated silver fox, the pet her mother got bored with. Anyway, she has a murder to investigate!

She soon has the police department's AIs, Doyle and Conan, digging up the scientist's background, and is talking to his coworkers at the laboratory, where they've been working on world-changing biotechnology developments. The more Ferron learns about the apparent victim in this crime, the more questions she has.

Meanwhile, she's also dealing with her overbearing, demanding mother, and the neighbors in the kin-based apartment building they both live in (in, blessedly, separate aparments.)  Ferron's mother is, along with more standard Indian mother obsessions like getting her daughter married, is addicted to the immersive online world now available--with compolete archives of your activity, if you can afford the storage. And since her mother can't really, she's been bullying her daughter to pay for it.

Ferron is juggling an apparently horrific murder, no obvious murderer because, while he had many enemies, most of them aren't anywhere nearby, an American private, but bonded and very professional cop chasing entirely different crimes related to the dead scientist, her own mother, and also being distracted by a supernova, or maybe something more startling, in the Andromeda galaxy--and a growing collection of evidence that says something else entirely is going on.

I found it engrossing, and fun, and along with good characters, there's also excellent world-building.


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