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Aphelion: Narc #4

Aphelion: Narc #4 - Mel Keegan Rating: 3.5 stars

This review contains spoilers pertaining to the previous books in the series

I think at this point in the series, readers are probably invested in Stoney and Kevin. And I might go out on a limb and even say that you, as the reader, probably enjoy the series for what it is if you’ve read the previous four books (counting Stopover). So what does Aphelion bring to the plate?

In Scorpio, NARC was able to secure Leo Michiko and strike a bargain for information pertaining to the Aphelion syndicate, which was believed to be busted years ago in the homeworlds. However, information from Michiko will prove otherwise. Meanwhile, a senator on Earth is pushing for a bill that would stop the legalized supply of Angel to Angelhead victims and ultimately force NARC to become a government tool to squash civilian dissent.

The first half of the novel deals with the setup for the political upheaval stirring on Earth. It also involves our favorite captains to explore the homeworlds of Earth and Mars. I’ll be honest: much of this portion kind of dragged for me. We get glimpses of the continued ethical dilemma of “manufacturing” empaths for NARC, a bit of Stoney’s family history as we visit Barcelona, experience the tension that exists between the “Earthers” and colonials, and other things that amass half of the overall novel. While it was nice to get some background information, I felt it wasn’t really necessary. It wasn’t until 50% into this installment that we start getting into the plot involving Aphelion and the Jupiter system.

Aphelion is a slow burn that ultimately accumulates to the hard and fast action in the last 15% of the book – stuff we are familiar with at this point. Mel Keegan is great at writing the undercover operations, the battle scenes, and the intricate plot that involves drug syndicates and political tension in this futuristic science fiction. It does seem that Aphelion had less focus on the undercover work and less action compared to its previous installments, which was a bummer. I also wished that there was more to the relationship and empathy between Stoney and Kevin. While it seems like they are better at communicating via the empathy, nothing new was really put on the plate. I would like to see more emotional “umph” in these books – something to test their already solid relationship. At this point, their missions seem more important than their relationship to one another. I would like to see at what point this will change, and the implication this will have on our heroes. I feel like something new needs to happen to our heroes instead of “just another” adventure/syndicate bust.

So definitely another enjoyable installment into this series. This universe continues to suck me in – I will never be able to think of our Solar System the same way again!