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Fergus Ferguson is an interstellar repo man working for the shipmakers of Pluto to repossess Venetia's Sword, a state of the art intelligent ship from Arum Gilger, the criminal who ran off with it. His destination is Cernee, a higgledy-piggledy series of habs in space around a gas giant. They are connected by transport lines, but Fergus's first ride proves almost fatal. When his cable car is targeted by Gilger, he gets away but his fellow passenger, Mother Vahn, matriarch of a clan of (he assumes) clones, is killed. Quite rightly the clones don't trust him, even though they save his life.

The plot thickens as Fergus becomes invested in some of the locals, including Mari, one of the clones, spiky as hell, and Harcourt, arms dealer, one of Cernee's powers, and Bale his surprisingly likeable henchman. Pretty soon Fergus is in the middle of a war between factions that he unwittingly helped to start. He lurches from one desperately improbable situation to another, managing to end up (several times) not-dead by the skin of his teeth. Fergus is a quick-thinking schemer with a conscience. He's a likeable character with a backstory which eventually returns to bite him.

There are aliens, and then there are Aliens, in particular the ineffable Asiig who sometimes take humans and 'alter' them. Some come back, some don't. They take an unnatural interest in him, so Fergus is wary, but when they intervene things get very strange.

Ms Palmer makes her characters work hard. Finder is a breathless ride. The pacing is good and the characters nicely complex. (I particularly liked Mari with her sandpapery attitude towards everything.) Though this is a complete story there's a neat little opening at the end which offers the possibility for Fergus to have more adventures. I'm looking forward to that.

Published April 2019. Advance reading copy supplied by DAW
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