Sunday, November 23, 2014

Edi's Spotlight: The Furnace by Timothy S Johnston

Dear Readers,

it is science fiction time. Time warp ..... into the year 2401 AD.
This is the first case of investigator Lieutenant Kyle Tanner from CCF (= Confederated Combined Forces).

In August 2014 I visited Sci-Fi Fan Letter. Since then I own copies of two more digital books.
I read both - I finished the second one on 2012-09-22 - and liked them a lot.

I talk about the science fiction series The Tanner Sequence  by Timothy S. Johnston, so far consisting of The Furnace (digital 2013) [Kindle edition ASIN: B00F942TT2]  and The Freezer (digital 2014) [Kindle edition ASIN: B00KPJNL3E]. The title of the next book is The Void and is coming in early 2015.

Book Store Information
In general my decision to read a book is mostly based on the cover and the blurb/synopsis delivered on the back cover. You do not get more information when you are in a book store. The world of books is changing which means I also will take in account blurbs and descriptions on GOODREADS and other places.
Here we go:

The Furnace (digital 2013) 
[Kindle edition ASIN: B00F942TT2

"Dead Space, 2401 AD

Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.

When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.

With no one to trust and everyone a suspect—even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen—Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice…" [Source]

The Delivery
The 334 pages are divided into five main parts which are subdivided into 34 consecutively numbered chapters followed by an epilogue. Narration is in first person via main character Lieutenant Kyle Tanner, CCF investigator.

 The book description delivers a good summary of what to expect from The Furnace. I wrote a first impression over at GOODREADS but I thought this book deserve an extended praise to raise the interest in a book which delivers hours of excellent entertainment. Or as I said:
The Furnace .... took me by storm.

As explained in the description the story starts nearly at the end of the story. In the supposed to be last hours in his life, investigator Lieutenant Kyle Tanner records the events of the past days.

Immediately I felt the heat from the sun, my pulse raised in fear of radiation and I lost contact to my surrounding.
Kyle Tanner is an experienced investigator with a lot of success. He is also analytical and has the right gut feeling. The way Kyle Tanner works reminded my of a famous detective from Victorian era ...... The energy harvester SOLEX One is the crime scene and all crew members are under suspicion. It is like an over dimensional locked room.

During the investigation Timothy S. Johnston delivers scientific stuff. He does it in an entertaining and believable way. Instead of bombarding the reader with tons of scientific terms, he let the scientists on board explain things to Kyle Tanner
and these explanations are the proof that the author definitely spent time for research.

The investigation itself is intricate due to the number of suspects, their relationship within the group, the opinions of the suspects about the government and society and the technological aspect of the crime.

Interrogation can be very boring and exhausting. Fortunately The Furnace shows the contrary. It does not take long and the reader starts guessing fuelled by new information on all areas.
I should not forget to tell you that Kyle Tanner's past which is revealed slowly has a certain impact especially on his private live.

The murder of more crew members boil and speed up the story and a love affair complicates Kyle Tanner's work. It is also the time we learn something new about him. For me it was like Kyle Tanner turns into a kind of John McClane, well-known from the Die Hard movies. It is the time when the detective story turns into a breathtaking, emotional and irresistible space action thriller.  Sometimes I nearly forgot to breathe.

I was quite happy that the end was different compared to the one I expected. Even the case is solved by then, there are several questions left unanswered which means stuff  for more books to come.

The Inevitable

 A crime has been committed. 
A famous investigator gets the order to find the killer. 
Sounds like a description I read one thousand times before. 
That is true. 

But that is also the point where the similarities to these stories end. The Furnace takes place in 2401 AD. The crime scene is SOLEX ONE, a research station orbiting the sun. The investigator is Lieutenant Kyle Tanner from CCF (= Confederated Combined Forces).

What starts as an usual investigation at an unusual place turns into much more.
Revenge, treason, conspiracy, scientific invention, a pinch of love, action, fleshed characters which develop and whom you will eagerly follow are the ingredients of The Furnace which took me by storm.

I have had a great and entertaining time with Kyle Tanner and other characters and all my guesses went wrong.

 Looking for a scifi crime which is more than a scifi crime then give The Furnace a try. I would like to see this story on a big screen. The good thing is there will be at least two more books starring Kyle Tanner. For more information about The Tanner Sequence series I recommend to visit the official site.

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