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Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

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I am always looking for more places to post my reviews.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Occasional Diamond Thief

The Occasional Diamond Thief, J.A. McLachlan, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2015

On his deathbed, Kia's father, an interstellar space trader, entrusts to her a diamond from the planet Malem. The problem is that it is very illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond; the penalty is death. In order to get away from an unpleasant home life, Kia engages in the occasional theft to get money to pay for translator school.

Kia is caught by Agatha, part of the Order of Universal Benevolence; sort of like the religious police. Kia is sent to Malem, as Agatha's translator. Malem is a cold, wet planet, in great contrast to Kia's dry, arid home world. Malem recently got over a plague which may, or may not, have been started by Malem's planetary neighbor. Among the thousands of casualties was the Queen's young daughter. She blames Kia's father for not reaching the planet quickly enough with the necessary medicine.

Kia learns that she cannot, for instance, go into a local tavern and say that she found the diamond lying on the ground. Diamonds are passed down from one generation to another, with the recipient keeping it for their entire life. She has to find its rightful owner. A young child contracts the plague. The requirement is that she is quarantined, alone for seven days, in the Plague House, a stone house in the middle of a swamp. At the end of that time, she either walks out of the House cured, or someone goes in to get her dead body. Agatha volunteers to enter the Plague House to take care of the child, even though it means almost certain death. While she is in there, Kia begins to get the idea that the High Priest is using the Plague House, and what it represents, to mess with the facts, and keep the people on edge. It involves Agatha not leaving the Plague House alive. Does Kia find the diamond's rightful owner? Does Agatha survive the Plague House?

This one is really good. It's easy to read, and very well written. Having a main character of color certainly helps. This is recommended for teens, and adults.

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