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The Disappeared  By  cover art

The Disappeared

By: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Narrated by: Jay Snyder
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Publisher's summary

Retrieval Artists help the lost find their way back home, whether they like it or not. Specialized private detectives, they investigate the most unusual crimes in the galaxy. But Miles Flint isn't a Retrieval Artist. He's just a cop, trying to do his job.

In a stolen space yacht, three people have been found eviscerated, the grisly signature of an alien vengeance killing. Moments later, the border patrol halts another ship launched out of the moon's orbit. Its passengers are two human children, kidnapped by the most ruthless aliens in the universe. Both ships are linked to a woman on the run: a Disappeared relocated to the inhospitable landscape of Mars. A reluctant outlaw with a bounty on her head and a detective on her case, she's about to teach all of them a lesson: it's dangerous to gamble with your life in a universe that rigs the game.

Listen to more in the Retrieval Artist series.
©2002 White Mist Mountain, Inc. (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A masterful writer is at work." (Orson Scott Card)
"Top 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels of all Time." (io9.com)
"If you love puzzle mysteries, crime novels, well-invented sci-fi worlds or stories about characters you can believe in and care about, you owe it to yourself to give Rusch's Retrieval Artist novels a try." (Orson Scott Card)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

All the elements of "stellar" fiction

I am late to the Retrieval Artist banquet, but happily pigging out now! There are many deserved good reviews for The Disappeared so I'd be tempted not to take the time, but I enjoyed this book so much that I just have to add my plaudits to both Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Jay Snyder, the narrator, as well as my thanks to Audible for bringing this to me.

If I rated this book as a police procedural/detective mystery, I'd probably rate it 4.5 stars - police procedural believable and fairly interesting, mystery nicely plotted, very clever, and a little twisty, but not as sophisticated as some. If I rated this book as strictly science fiction, I would probably rate it as 4.5 stars also - terrific detailed world building, no big science blunders, but little hard science. However, The Disappeared is much more than a Sci-Fi Detective Mystery; it is a book that has all the elements for seriously great fiction. When you combine that with top-notch narration from Jay Snyder, you have an audio book that I could hardly stand to it turn off - truly stellar!

* Engaging, believable characters. Men and women who have unique personalities that extend beyond body type or looks; varying levels of intelligence, talents,and flaws; complex emotional and psychological make-ups; diverse backgrounds, ages, and socio-economic levels. It's tough to write good fiction in any genre without good characters and yet it is especially difficult to find good characterizations in science fiction - particularly for female characters.

* Interesting plot - science fiction lends itself to good plots which is one of the reasons I like the genre, but much of it is about colonization and/or battles. I have enjoyed many space exploration type plots, but Rusch's plotting is more about the challenges of life after the initial survival hurdles have been made in space and it was a nice change of pace.

* Setting - The Disappeared takes place primarily in the domed city of Armstrong on the Moon, but Rusch also lines out the politics and the aliens across known colonized space. Her descriptions of Armstrong made me feel like I was there.

* Prose - evocative, but not effusive; truly readable and keeps the story moving.

* Themes - I think all good fiction has to be entertaining, but not all fiction has to give "food for thought". But, if a fictional story makes you think that's a big bonus and there's plenty to ruminate on in The Disappeared. We already know that human societies enact and enforce laws differently. (There are Americans imprisoned in various places around the world for doing things that would not be illegal in the USA.) In Rusch's universe with multiple alien peoples, there is a group that finds death so abhorrent that a person who comes in contact with a dead body is subjected to a cleansing ritual that includes evisceration; a group that takes retribution not on the offender but on his/her loved ones; and a group that subjects even minor offenders to hard labor. You could just avoid contact with those groups to stay out of trouble, but what if they have something really marketable (what if North Korean sat on all the world's diamonds or oil)? The capitalism that lives in most human hearts will find a way to trade for something they want even if there is a great risk in doing so. What if what you believe is moral is illegal - and, you are a cop? What if your style works to make you effective at your job, but keeps getting you into political trouble - can you/should you change?

I listened to two more in The Retrieval Artist series before I could make myself stop to write a review and I am still totally taken with Rusch's writing and her universe. "Retrieverse" keeps expanding in interesting and unusual ways and Flint and DeRicci continue to evolve and grow. As a great topper, Jay Snyder, nice narration/good characterizations, continues as the narrator throughout the series. Most sci-fi enthusiasts will enjoy The Retrieval Artist and most readers who appreciate finely crafted fiction independent of genre should be entertained.

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31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Sprint finish..

Ok, I must admit this was actually my 2nd attempt at this book.

On my fist attempt I found the initial 20mins a struggle to get into - but with hindsight it was just the style of writing - with several story lines running in parallel.

Predominately this is a detective novel within a sci-fi framework. The writer twists several threads that come together at the finale.

I thoroughly enjoyed this - right to the end. Am definitely getting the next in the series and looking forward to seeing Flint progress. The narrator Jay Synder is great - reminds me of Scott Brick.





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22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great premise

This is a terrific combination of SF and Mystery. Very well read and a real page-tuner (if you can use that term with audio).

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Caught and Retrieved

I had for some reason, held off on listening to any of KK Rusch's books and feel like I've been holding out on myself. Well, no more, holding back!
This was a really interesting book. Rusch has really thought about this idea and developed it so that it sounds plausible. Sort of like witness protection with quite a twist. The alien cultures the she has created sound scary, but also plausible, and I wanted to know more about them. Why do they think the way they do, how did their sense of justice develop, what do their worlds look like, and how do they live? There are just glimpses of these races, a tantalizing taste that piques the curiosity.
Character development starts of strong and just builds as the story continues. You care about these people, you want them to succeed. Also, the issues that are the heart of the story are frightening and look to be unsolvable. There aren't any nicely packaged solutions that are applied here. Here are imperfect solutions, sort of like real life.
I also greatly enjoyed Jay Snyder's reading. He has a voice that is easy to listen to, and if you really must know, he sort of "disappears" into the reading. Its as if you aren't really aware that someone else is reading the story to you.
Excellent read, I am looking forward to my next KK Rusch book!

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

And I Paid for This?

It is true that the plot of a novel sometimes cannot avoid driving from points A to B over well-worn stones, but the plot of this one my dog could sniff out in her sleep. The fate of the main protagonist was apparent within two hours. Not good.

I think the main flaw in this novel is Rusch's stunning lack of understanding of human nature. Our history is an ever-quickening march toward individualism. The individual is, for better or worse, gaining power faster than he is losing it. To propose that government could get away with placing interstellar treaties above the lives of children is unrealistic in the extreme. A totalitarian regime might be able to make that stick, but not the society Rusch draws for us. One scandal would lead to interstellar war.

As another reviewer observed, perhaps this was intended to be a juvenile series. Adults should steer clear.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You will disappear into this book

The characters and settings are awesome! This is one of my favorite Sci-fi books and the reader does a great job.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting premise, sloppy execution

There are some interesting ideas here, but I found it hard to get past the presentation. The language was both stiff and in several places grammatically suspect -- a bad combination. There was considerable redundancy, particularly in the thoughts and feelings of the characters, which demonstrated no growth, just recurrence, over the course of the novel. Plot was weak. Get Frank Herbert's Whipping Star instead.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Fast paced space detective novel

This is a fast, interesting and well-developed novel with interesting aliens and a suspenseful plot.

There are some gaps where the story seems to jump and a major story thread gets concluded "behind the scenes" (i.e. we last see one character on the run from the police then at the end of the book we find out she's been relocated to Earth, but there is no indication of how or when this happened).

The narration is very good; the characters are distinctly voiced and I will certainly be reading more in the series.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

bad science, worse fiction

Somebody tell this author: if you are going to set your novel on the Moon THE GRAVITY IS ONE SIXTH OF EARTH'S! There is no explanation why people can run without bouncing high into the air, or be pinned in an overturned air car. I also loved that the moon colony's dome could "open" to allow space ships to land. What happens to the air in the dome? If there is a way to keep it from escaping, why do you need a dome? The clueless science is matched only by the endlessly meandering plot and the way too neat and way too easy happy ending.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting first novel of a new series

Kristine Rusch has developed a great hook with this series, and she's joined with Jay Snyder as narrator to come out with a great new story arc--at last-a NEW SiFi story line.

Rusch writes tight dialog, both human and alien and Snyder does a wonderful job of inventing the aliens speech patterns and voices. Together they have a intriguing new idea that caught my attention in the first hour.

Other reviews have covered the story line so I won't-I just have encourage those who love good tight SiFi thats not based in uber tech but reads like it's just the normal day except hundreds of years in the future, to check this first novel out. As for me, I'm on to # 2

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