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October 14, 2022

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Tesla, the heiress to the Crane fortune, and Shal, a retired private detective, are enjoying a cruise from Earth to Mars for their honeymoon when a person from the cabin next door is murdered. Shal is immediately identified as the murderer. As more bodies turn up, it is clear that someone is framing him. Can they piece together the clues to find the real killer?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of science fiction mystery novel The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal
October 2022; Tor Books; 978-1250829153
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); sci-fi mystery

I loved Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut series and while this isn't something I would normally pick up I knew I had to try it. It is an interesting mash-up of noir mystery and science fiction. 

I loved the intersection of a time period where doll and dame were used for women with a future time period where gender is neutral and non-binary. The setting of a luxury space cruise ship was also awesome. I don't read science fiction often, even though I enjoy watching it, because I have trouble picturing the technology. I didn't have that problem with this book. While there are some high-tech doodads they are all based on things that we are familiar with. The matter printer is similar to our 3D printers. Otherwise, the cruise ship is similar to our cruise ships - it is just traveling through space instead water. Cruises are my favorite type of vacation so I totally loved the vibe the ship gives the novel.

The Spare Man is a closed-door mystery but there are still plenty of suspects among the crew and guests. And when some of the prime suspects wind up dead it just ups the ante and keeps the reader guessing. While the twist might be considered a cop-out by some readers, I still found the story entertaining.

I loved Tesla and Shal and I kind of hope that this is a start of a series because they are a fun couple. 

I read a lot of books with recipes but this is the first one that started each chapter with a cocktail recipe. If you are in a book club, you would have a ready-made party with this book. Not all the cocktail recipes contain alcohol so your book club can discuss the book and enjoy sampling the recipes. There is one with cranberry juice and cucumbers that sounds interesting.

If you are looking for a great mystery with a fun cast, then you can't go wrong with Mary Robinette Kowal's latest novel.

Buy The Spare Man at Amazon


Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.



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