A Shadow in the Flames (The New Aeneid Cycle – Book One). Michael G. Munz. Smashwords. September 2013. 308 pp. 2983 KB. AISN #: B00D72HVT6. ISBN#: 9781602641044.
Diomedes lives in the Dirge area of an unnamed futuristic city and works as a freelancer. Beyond that vague reference, the reader infers that he’s a criminal who does contract work for an unnamed source. Michael is an old friend who Diomedes takes under his wing after Michael loses his Uncle to a heart attack and then loses the farm he’s lived on all his life. Michael is not a lightweight but definitely is “learning the ropes” from his friend. Only now his training is about to jettison into high gear when Diomedes’ apartment explodes and all of his possessions are destroyed in the fire. To say he’s furious is an understatement and he’s determined to find out who is behind it. Yes, killing is on his mind!
First they hire a shyster named Felix who is capable of discovering secret sources; many pay Felix for his knowledge. But this is no regular human society. The characters are living in a dystopian cyber society where parts of the body are machines that can out-perform any human organ by a thousand-fold.
The plot then switches to the Moon where humans are mining all available metals until a freaky discovery is made. Is it man or machine? One isn’t sure but it definitely looks like a metallic porcupine that in a flash of light leaves behind a strew of dead bodies. Anything to be learned about it is immediately cut off by the major company running the mining project – and more behind that obvious cover. It is Marette Clarion who refuses to be shut up and who wants to know precisely what happened in one devastating event to cause the death of so many. So we have two separate searches for information plots with no idea of who is responsible for either scenario.
To say more would be a spoiler. The plot picks up about to become quite an adventure but one must wade through too many conversations about who knows “something” from the secret sources that remain vague references before you get to a viably moving and developing story. It’s worth the wait as all the circumlocutory discussions eventually get somewhere. But there’s no clear-cut final solution to the two parallel plots but enough of a hint to keep the reader wanting more. Yes, A Shadow in the Flames… is quite a sci-fi tale that becomes riveting toward the middle of the story.
Thieves and murderers, gangs, vampires, business leaders with far too much power, a journalist, and more fill these pages to provide quite a good read! Interesting dystopian literature – dark, violent, mysterious, and suspenseful – for those who love the genre!