A Talent for War (Alex Benedict #1)
By Jack McDevitt
I’ve read other works by McDevitt (the Priscilla Hutchins/Academy series, Eternity Road, Ancient Shores) and been impressed, so I finally got around to trying out his other series. The Talent for War is the first book in it, and while it is part of a series (which I haven’t read yet, so am not sure how it fits in) it could easily stand alone. Alex Benedict is left a puzzle by his late uncle that leads him to dig into events surrounding humanity’s latest war and greatest hero. McDevitt is a master of pacing, and keeps things moving and interesting, even though the protagonist spends a good deal of time doing what could be boring investigative work and traveling. Alex himself is a very likeable character, if reluctant investigator, and is good for a few snarky asides that made me chuckle. The plot has well-done nuances of political and emotional agendas, and wraps up almost everything nicely. My main issue with it, without going into spoilers, is one significant supporting character whose presence and actions aren’t really adequately explained. Also, regarding the alien race whom the latest war was with, and whom also have a stake in Alex’s investigation – it’s never really clear whether they are actually as malicious as the book’s history would have you believe. Though I also kind of like that the ‘bad guys’ aren’t clear cut bad guys; it gives the fiction a touch of realism, since things in real life are rarely clear cut black-and-white. Overall, a very engaging read, and I look forward to seeing how the series continues.
Also: proof that I read science fiction as well as fantasy!
I give it 4/5 stars.