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Wrapt in Crystal (Ace Science Fiction)
by Sharon Shinn
ISBN 0441006167 / 9780441006168 / 0-441-00616-7
Publisher Ace Trade
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Wrapt in Crystal examines religious faith and the nature of love while providing a riveting murder mystery. Shinn's setting is the desert planet Semay, whose culture and language are mostly Spanish, with some French and Italian influences. Here, two orders of priestesses worship the goddess Ava: the Triumphantes, who live in worldly comfort and celebrate her with joy; and the Fideles, who renounce wealth to serve the poor and see her as the comforter of the hungry, the sick, and the sorrowful.
A serial killer is murdering members of both orders alternately, and Semay has asked Interfed, an alliance of federated planets with an elite peacekeeping force called the Moonchildren, for assistance. Cowen Drake, the Moonchild assigned, is under pressure to solve the case quickly, impressing Semay with the benefits of joining Interfed and keeping the priestesses safe. Though he has lost his own faith, Drake sets out to understand the victims, the orders, and the role of religion in Semay. His guides are the powerful, charismatic Jovieve, head of the Triumphantes, and the self-abnegating, dedicated Laura.
Readers will find the characters compelling, the suspense taut, and the developing love story moving. If you enjoyed Shinn's Samaria trilogy, you shouldn't miss this one. --Nona Vero [via]