I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Peripheral People (Ylendrian Empire #4) by Reesa Herberth, Michelle Moore
Published: Riptide Publishing (2015), eBook, 430pg
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi, Romance, GLBTQ, Mystery
Corwin Menivie and Nika Santivan are decorated veterans of the Imperial Enforcement Coalition, and are perfectly capable of solving cases the old-fashioned way. When they’re paired with Westley Tavera and Gavin Hale, the most powerful Reader/Ground team to emerge from the Psionics Academy, it could either be the best thing that’s ever happened to crime fighting, or the makings of a quadruple homicide.
During a routine investigation, West’s talent puts them on the trail of a brutal serial killer who traps his prey in a deadly mental playground. Then the killer starts baiting the team, laying psychic landmines at crime scenes and exposing IEC secrets. The strain of the case binds the agents closer together—so close that Nika and Gavin start sharing a room, and even the curmudgeonly Corwin finds himself as occupied with West as he is with the murders.
But as West’s visions of death grow more violent, the only way out for all of them may be straight through the mind of a monster. If they’re not careful, they may forget which side of the hunt they’re on.
I picked up Peripheral People because of the scifi MYSTERY angle, with the romance being a bonus. (I’m also always on the lookout for scifi books starring people other than straight white dudes. Especially ones with aliens! Just fyi.)
Scifi mysteries are far and few and I desperately need to find more of them. Especially if they’re as good as Peripheral People! Admittedly, this one has a serial killer, a plot detail I’m not much into, but the rest of the story kept me occupied enough that I ended up not minding the serial killer so much. It was a twisty enough mystery that I didn’t even figure out who the killer was until nearly the end (good), but it also didn’t come out of the blue (also good).
However, my favorite part (as with most books I love) ended up being the characters. There’s four main ones (two protagonists, two secondary characters) and they’re all delightful. The protagonists got most of the character growth, of course, but the secondaries got their own chance to shine.
Plus, friendship! Being stuck on a ship together practically forces people to become friends, and it was fun watching them all go through the change from almost-adversaries to pals (and more).
As for the romance: normally I don’t enjoy love-hate relationships where one person is a dingleberry to the other one and then somehow they end up making out, but it worked here. Corwin (the dingleberry character) was actually more complex than I expected, and he tries to be less dingleberry-ish over the course of the book. He recognizes that he’s somewhat emotionally constipated (because of his upbringing) and that he’s pushing away his partner, alienating himself within the police organization, and making it very difficult for anyone to like him. He has no friends, his career is stalled, and he’s deeply unhappy.
So he decides to do something about it! He starts opening up, little by little, mending bridges and connecting more with his partner. I think this actually prompts Westley to start opening up, too, which is great! Usually the happy-go-lucky character ends up dragging the grumpy one into happiness, but it felt like it was the other way around this time.
Westley was actually kind of a dingleberry, too, actually, except he hid it with humor and cheerfulness. As it turns out, being psychic kinda sucks, especially when the serial killer you’re trying to find is ALSO psychic and starts leaving traps.
West handles stress in ways that irritate (and confuse) Corwin, and it takes a while before they’re able to empathize with each other. Even then it’s a bumpy road, one they’re still working on when the book ends. It’s not a perfect HEA, but it’s super satisfying because they’ve come so far from the beginning of the book and recognize that they could have a future together if they work for it.
Other great things: gender-neutral aliens, the dingleberry writes murder mysteries under a pen name, background romance between the secondary characters is super cute, humor mixed with serious emotional whatsits, cultural differences existing instead of the galaxy just being uber homogenous, friendship!!
I very much enjoyed Peripheral People and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.
Read: May 17-18, 2015