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Publisher's Summary

Forensic anthropologist Aisha Costard has been summoned to Mars to examine skeletal remains recently discovered beneath a building erected by the Disty aliens. The bones belong to a human woman who vanished 30 years ago with her children. She is believed to have been one of the Disappeared, outlaws wanted for crimes against alien civilizations.

To investigate the mystery of the skeleton, Aisha turns to Retrieval Artist Miles Flint. Following the trail back three decades and seeking the whereabouts of the victim's missing children, Miles discovers a deadly secret that could threaten the stability of the entire solar system.

Listen to more in the Retrieval Artist series.
©2005 White Mist Mountain, Inc.; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Rusch has done it again....[An] excellent novel." (SFRevu)
"Top 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels of all Time." (
"Here's Rusch's genius: She doesn't confine herself to the rules of any one genre. She does world-creation and social criticism like the best sci-fi writers; she creates crime stories that would be best episodes on Law & Order or CSI; and she creates stories of human relationships that rank her with the finest character writers working today." (Orson Scott Card)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Best in the series

Ms. Rusch's 4th effort, and as with book 3, we finally get to see some of what Flint's new career is all about.

The plot works better than any of the previous 3, definitely the best in the series.

Jay Snyder once again delivers an out-of-this-world performance.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Douglas
  • Lake St. Louis, MO, United States
  • 12-10-08

Good book from a good series

I've heard all the Retrieval Artist books and enjoyed them. They are just a solid, enjoyable listen for me.

In this book I really liked getting so in close with the Disti(aliens). I felt like we got to know them much better as a people than has previously been the case for other aliens.

This one also had some added spice in how the story followed numerous characters' points of view consistently through the book rather than mostly sticking to the 2-3 mains.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • MMRudy
  • Los Alamos NM USA
  • 10-17-08

The best so far

Good action, good suspense. Learned more about the alien Disti(?) and their rites. Enjoyed the interplay between protagonists.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Better than usual.

I enjoy the RA books, but don't think of them as particularly special. Certainly fine entertainment with interesting enough ideas. However, this one seemed to push a bit out of the normal comfort zone, and I enjoyed it more.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

To much politics

Jay Snyder turns in another great performance; to bad the story is not up to snuff.

This story took the politics to far, I seriously lost interest in this story many times. I feel like there is very little action and entirely to much explanation and whining. This is not why I have been reading these books.

I will now be taking a break from reading the Retrieval Artist series for awhile, it looks like the next book in the series may have more action and less politics so I will eventually listen to/read it, but it wont be anytime soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sharon
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • 05-30-13

These need 3.5 stars not four

These are detective stories in space. No great strain on the brain matter and some gaping holes in the plot. I felt that I made a mistake buying the entire set after the first one thinking that the author was going to build on that story. She didn't really, The characters continue on with a series of detective stories that are not especially thrilling. I listened to them all and cannot say that I was inspired, but I enjoyed them for what they were, fairly bland. I wish we had 1/2 stars, these books only deserve three and half, the four is misleading but three would have been too low.

  • Overall

Listen to the sample before buying.

The book might have worked for me with a different reader. It interweaves threads from the lives of different people on different planets in different positions of society; you never quite know where the focus will end up, and that might have been interesting. But I couldn't get past hours and hours of having minute details narrated without irony, without much of an arc, and with too-long pauses between sentence fragments that acquired a seriousness the narrative doesn't always have. Women's voices came in a choice of breathy alto or whiny falsetto; in a book largely inhabited by female characters, none of them sounded like a real person when speaking.
I don't know whether this is just a personal preference or a true failing - so take the trouble of listening to the sample, imagine a few hours of that same tone of voice applied to things far less grave, and then decide.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

another good story

this is another great story

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


The characters lack depth. The living situations are not explained and why is a man narrating a book where 2 of the 3 leads are women? His voice left me confused too often, especially since one of the women was called Scott.

Did not finish the book. I like her new series about Space Diving but not this series.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I wanted to like it

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I hesitate writing a negative review, but this is the first series I've audibly complained to while listening.

For what it's worth, I love Peter Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, S.A. Corey, Dan Simmons, China Mieville and so many others.

This series is pure fantasy written in the future. If you are looking to find the polar opposite of hard SF, this is your cup of tea. It reminds me of Kirk-era Star Trek writing.

Would you ever listen to anything by Kristine Kathryn Rusch again?

Probably not.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

This is an ambiguous question that is difficult to answer.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


There were simply too many unbelievable machinations I was required to accept. I'm not speaking of the "Somewhat unrealistic" flavour, rather it's of the "Are you f'in kidding me?" variety.

I'll save specific instances so as not to ruin anyone else's enjoyment of the book. Needless to say, the chances of the world the main characters live in coming to fruition are smaller than me spontaneously changing genders.

The main characters are decent enough, but so many of the powerful, ruling-class characters that make their way into the stories lead me to believe they are timid pre-teens with sub-50 IQ's transferred into older hosts.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful