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The Man in the Tree    by Sage Walker order for
Man in the Tree
by Sage Walker
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a most unusual and thought provoking combination of science fiction and mystery, Sage Walker's The Man in the Tree. Earth is on its last legs and seedship Kybele is being readied to carry thirty thousand colonists on a multi-generational journey to a distant planet. With only weeks left before launch, final decisions need to be made about who stays and who goes.

This 'hollow asteroid on a one-way journey to a relatively nearby star' is currently led by three division chiefs. The story's protagonist is Incident Analyst Helt Borresen, whose job it is 'to arbitrate conflicts between Navigation, Bioscience and Systems Support'. He's the one tasked to investigate after a man is found dead in a tree - did Charles Ryan jump or was he pushed?

But before that starts, Helt meets and is instantly attracted to Elena Maury from Biosystems. And engineer/contract employee Yves Copani (in love with a colonist) asks for his help in getting a last minute slot on the seedship.

Reviewing videos of access to the tower from which Ryan fell to his death, Helt is dismayed to find that Elena was the last one who ascended the tower elevator before Ryan's demise. She also once lived with the victim when they were both students at MIT - she's the obvious prime suspect in what quickly becomes a murder investigation.

Digging into Ryan's back story reveals a psychopathic stalker who might have sabotaged Kybele. But why? Who killed him? And is he still a threat to the ship? This very well-developed and lyrical story reminded me just a little of Murder on the Orient Express, but I'll say no more. Read it yourself - it's well worth your time.

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