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Reviewed by Deepak Menon for Readers' Favorite
Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther is a futuristic science fiction thriller that keeps the reader on tenterhooks throughout its nail biting action. The book begins with the main protagonist, Aralyn, who has just served out her prison sentence on Tartarys, the most horrific prison in the galaxy, docking her spaceship at a remote dock on a desolate trading planet, Lyria V, somewhere in the vastness of space. As she walks to the entry gate, Caden Madigan, who had been a fellow runner of banned goods with her as well as her ex-boyfriend, accosts her with a complement of custom agents and guards. Caden is wearing the insignia of a ‘Spector’ of the Universal Decisions Assembly, UDA, the feared secret police entrusted with the responsibility of apprehending ‘Runners’ who smuggled goods between planets across the galaxy. She is searched and some minor drugs are found in her pocket, but she escapes imprisonment due to a technicality. Though Caden tries to convince her that he had no hand in her imprisonment, she is full of bitterness and rejects his overtures. Later, after restoring her relationship with Caden, Aralyn goes to meet her mentor and idol Kragg, a blind old man who was a genius in making guns. She had promised him before her imprisonment to smuggle a package, and before leaving smuggling forever, she just had to keep her promise, one that lands her back in Tartarys.
Merethe Walther shows amazing skills in writing and in her descriptions of the living hell that is Tartarys, and the ordeal faced by our heroine. To avoid spoilers is difficult here because I am tempted to put in at least a line for the numerous subsequent events that follow across the galaxy. There are many other great original protagonists, both good and evil, like Eladia Galven, described as a bitch from Helios; Kita Shinkai whose life she saves; the vindictive Proctor Madigan; the hacker Riordan and more. Suffice it to say that the tale covers many unique scenarios, many spectacular action-packed events, heroism, a wide canvas of human frailty and resourcefulness to make it a book to remember for any reader. There is some sex – nothing explicit. The flow is steady and continuous with each event merging seamlessly with the next. This is a well written book though the ending is open ended, probably leaving a window to a sequel which I am sure will be well received.