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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads (Human Division #12) by John Scalzi


The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads (The Human Division, #12)The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the twelfth of thirteen episodes in The Human Division, a serial novel and something of an experiment. I'm looking forward to the last installment, but saddened to think that will be all. I suppose I still have several other books to hunt down from this world and this author.

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads, as is the pattern with even-numbered episodes, deviates from the main cast. This time, we see what Danielle Lowen, the doctor from the Earth ambassadors in episode 9 is up to on Earth. She was supposed to find the CU guilty of an ambassador's murder, but instead unearthed a deeper conspiracy. She isn't safe once she gets back to Earth, even with the top authorities reluctant to see the happenings on the Clarke as part of a deeper plot. The embassy she was supposed to have a meeting in blows up while she's getting a bagel across the street, and then meets a mysterious individual claiming to be a pharmaceuticals rep. "John Berger" warns her not to go home after telling her exactly how Luiza Carvalho might have been manipulated into killing someone, and she, smart woman that she is, listens.

I couldn't help but wonder, as this installment came to a close, if John Berger was the same mysterious informant who spoke to Birnbaum in A Voice in the Wilderness. I suppose there's no way of knowing, though his attitude would have had to alter significantly. One would have to know just how much time has passed between these episodes, and I don't.

For a "B story" episode, this seemed to hint a lot more at the larger picture than some of the stories involving the diplomatic crew on the Clarke. It was also full of action and intrigue, and I'm quite interested to see how the story wraps up, in the end.

Once more, I listened to this on audio, narrated by William Dufris. I have no complaints about his narration, though this installment's taking place entirely on Earth might've made his job a little easier, this time around. He did pronounce Brazilian names and places well, though there were times when the Brazilian politician sent to stall Lowen sounded Transylvanian.

I can't wait for Tuesday.


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