Science fiction gets criminal

Science fiction is often treated like a genre (and for a good reason), but genre lines can be incredibly blurry, with quite a bit of variation and room to play. One area that’s been growing recently is the sub-genre of crime stories and mysteries within sci-fi. Here is a selection worth investigating.

The Salt Line” by Holly Goddard Jones (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $26)

This is an exciting novel, with unexpected twists and turns and excellent character development, but it starts small: with a tick. Far into the future, when climate change has taken its toll on our planet, a tick roams the U.S. and carries with it a deadly, incurable disease. People live clustered in cities, protected from the outside world. But the romance of the wilderness still exists, and tour groups take wealthy adventurers beyond city borders. Marta doesn’t want to embark on one of these trips, but her criminal husband, David, insists. As Marta gets to know her fellow travelers, she starts to think that maybe this wasn’t such a terrible idea — that is, until her group is attacked from within and someone is murdered. Are Marta’s husband’s deeds catching up with her, or does someone else in the group have a secret? Not all the characters in this novel are easy to like, but I absolutely believed that they were capable of anything.

Six Wakes” by Mur Lafferty (Orbit, $15.99 paper)

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