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Gabriel's Ghost    by Linnea Sinclair order for
Gabriel's Ghost
by Linnea Sinclair
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Captain Chasidah Bergren is court-martialed for a crime she did not commit and shipped of to the notorious prison planet, Moabar. Chas is well aware that no one has ever escaped from the disease-infested planet. When one of the guards takes more liberties than he should and she kills him in self-defense, she finds herself on the run. Chas figures she's gotten herself into something of a desperate situation here; if the Takan guards don't track her down and kill her, then the unforgiving landscape soon will. But she vows to go down fighting. Then someone even more dangerous and mysterious steps from the shadows and offers Chas a ticket to freedom.

Gabriel Sullivan is a mercenary, smuggler and rogue. He's also supposed to be dead. At first Chas believes that she's talking to his ghost, but once Gabriel convinces her that reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated and that he is indeed flesh and blood, he offers her a way off Moabar. He needs 'the pride of the Sixth Fleet' to pilot his ship out of this area of space. He also plans to use her connections to help him find out and stop whoever is secretly breeding jukors, genetically bred killing machines that the Empire has long outlawed.

Fine characterizations, snappy and smart dialogue, nifty world building and plenty of political and religious intrigue make for an interesting tale. It's written through Chas's point of view, but Sinclair does a nice job of presenting the problems and motivations of the various species that populate the story. The romance between Chas and Gabriel is provocative and believable, and Sinclair keeps the sexual tension between them simmering - though some readers might find Chas's pre-occupation with 'Gabriel's obsidian eyes' a bit redundant after a while. Readers who enjoy romantic science fiction packed with a heady blend of adventure, action and intrigue will love Gabriel's Ghost.

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