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Cold Dark Matter by Alex Brett
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Cold Dark Matter (2005)

by Alex Brett

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Cold Dark Matter, by Alex Brett, is the second in a series featuring Morgan O'Brien, an Ottawa investigator who is attached to the Canadian National Council for Science and Technology, whose usual beat is fraud investigation. But she's asked, by her old boss Duncan, who is himself in a precarious state concerning custody of his two children some years after a divorce when his ex-wife begins to demand custodial rights, to look into the apparent suicide of a Canadian astronomer who is working at a world-class telescope in Hawaii; the astronomer's diaries are missing, and something just doesn't feel right to Duncan. So in good faith, and with little information, Morgan flies out to Hilo and finds that things are far more mysterious than they already seem: the suicide is actually murder, there are dark forces working against her, and there's an extremely fit and good-looking cop who might help her or might shove her into jail. When more bodies appear, and more mystery looms, Morgan makes her way back to Ottawa, where the Cold War past holds clues to all the mysteries, if she can live long enough to figure them out.... I liked this book; it doesn't talk down to readers, assumes a certain level of scientific awareness but doesn't assume that every reader will understand the finer points of astronomy; it also makes a point of the often-overlooked fact that 1960s Cold War mentality, beyond the capitalism/communism schism, included the concept that male homosexuality was criminal and usable as a means to force people to give secret information to the enemy and was used in that way (lesbianism was barely on the radar then, because of course then women had almost no power that could be exploited in the same way). And I also loved the fact that the truth hinges on a scientist's decision to publish an article that denied the actual results of his work, which delayed the discovery of "dark matter" by a significant period of time! The author's website cites some actual historical facts to back up her story, and I will certainly look for her first book, Dead Water Creek, but unfortunately the last entry in her website is dated 2005, and there's apparently been nothing since. A shame, because Cold Dark Matter is that rare thing, a mystery novel based upon solid scientific grounds. Recommended. ( )
  thefirstalicat | Aug 17, 2011 |
Meticulously researched background, and settings dear to my heart — the Canada-France-Hawai'i telescope and Ottawa — failed to redeem the lackluster mystery/spy novel plot. Much as I like the idea of "lab lit", fiction featuring scientists and their work, the writing in this one was too disappointing for me. ( )
  peridotite | Jan 30, 2010 |
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Epigraph
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

          Sarah Williams
         "The Old Astronomer to His Pupil"
Dedication
For my parents
Joan and Peter
with gratitude and love.
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In the world of science to see is to believe.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Dundurn

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