Book Review: Finder by Suzanne Palmer
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1/Stand Alone
Publisher: DAW (April 2, 2019)
Length: 400 pages
If you’re ever in need of something to brighten your day or give you a nice shot of energy after you find that a string of heavier, ponderous books has sapped your all your motivation, Finder by Suzanne Palmer is exactly the kind of pick-me-up the situation calls for. It’s nothing too deep or fancy, but it sure as hell gets the job done.
This is a tale set in the far-flung future, following the escapades of our protagonist Fergus Ferguson. A self-described finder, it’s his job to chase down some of the galaxy’s most notorious criminals to retrieve lost or stolen items, a position which hasn’t earned him much popularity, though the same cannot be said about the number of his enemies. His latest gig is a mission to steal back a spaceship from a egomaniacal ex-nobleman turned crime lord named Arum Gilger, who has been making a big splash lately with his ever expanding sphere or influence and power. However, as Fergus makes his way to the remote system called Cernee where he has located Gilger and the stolen ship, the cable car he was traveling in is attacked. Fergus barely escapes with his life, but his fellow passenger, a kind and pleasant older lady with whom he had established a friendly rapport in the introduction to the novel, does not make it.
Little does he know, that brief connection they shared will lead to much deeper and wide-spread consequences. Recovering from the attack, Fergus finds himself tangled up with the locals and their plight. Cernee is now plunged into a civil war, and our protagonist will have no choice but to fight alongside his newfound allies against Gilger and his dastardly plans to seize control over their colony. Meanwhile, the fight is further complicated by the emergence of a mysterious alien species that was long thought to be a myth, adding another layer of action and intrigue to an already compelling mix.
Finder was a boatload of fun, no other description really required. It’s the kind of book where you can let your thinking mind take a backseat while you break out the popcorn and indulge in a breakneck, high-octane space adventure. But most impressively, despite all the nonstop action, Palmer still manages to set aside some time for world-building and character development, creating in Fergus Ferguson a well-rounded and likeable protagonist you just can’t help but root for. Although he was born on Earth (hailing from Scotland, naturally), Fergus blew off the earth at a young age and has been bouncing around the galaxy ever since, making a name for himself as a kind of space repo man. As far as sci-fi scoundrels go, I love the direction the author has chosen with our main character, and his personalities traits and life experiences are as interesting as you’d expect.
Then, there’s the humor. Featuring a mixed bag of genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy combined with a healthy dose of groan-worthy jokes and cheesy slapstick, this novel is guaranteed to have something for everyone. The lightness also keeps this one from becoming too gritty and dark amidst all the explosive violence and action. Fergus has a talent for getting himself into tight situations again and again, but tensions are lessened by the slick dialogue and the story’s easy ability to make you laugh.
Fergus’ interactions with the other characters also deserve a mention. No matter how endearing or charismatic they are, few characters can carry a story on their own, and to be sure, much of the entertainment I derived from Finder was thanks to Fergus’ personality and background being bound up in the lives of the other supporting characters he meets. The people of Cernee felt real, and so did their problems. Palmer’s world-building skills are on full display here, when you consider the sheer effort that must have gone into the creation of this intricate little community and their role in the wider network of systems beyond. The emotional connection I felt towards Fergus’ new friends came very naturally, and consequently their relationship dynamics and interactions also felt well-written and believable.
All told, Suzanne Palmer has brought to life a surprisingly developed and well-layered space adventure, considering how strong the emphasis was on delivering fast-paced action and thrills. A novel debut for her, Finder clearly shows that making the jump from short stories to long form fiction is not a problem for the author. While you won’t be getting anything too deep or sophisticated with this one, there’s no denying that it’s a lot of fun.