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The Case of the Colonistís Corpse

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at January 26, 2004 - 8:28 PM GMT

Title: Star Trek: The Case of the Colonistís Corpse: A Sam Cogley Mystery
Authors: Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella
Publication Date: January 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-6497-4

The Case of the Colonistís Corpse by Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella is a departure from the usual Star Trek novel in one very obvious way. As the title implies, The Case of the Colonistís Corpse is a mystery, a Perry Mason style mystery. The story isnít nearly as dramatic or suspenseful as a genuine Earl Stanley Gardner story but it is still an enjoyable read, carefully plotted with well-drawn characters. If you relish a nice little mystery, The Case of the Colonistís Corpse should fit the bill quite nicely.

Under the terms of the Organian Peace Treaty both the Federation and the Klingon Empire have established colonies on Aneher II. Whichever government is deemed to have best developed their portion of the planet will be awarded the planet and itís rich deposits of natural resources. An uneasy peace exists between the two groups of colonistís but mistrust and open hatred is often the order of the day. When the administrator of the Federation colony, Daniel Latham, is found murdered and the Klingon colonyís administrator Commander MakíTor is found kneeling by his still warm body it would appear to be an open and shut case. Enter Sam Cogley (TOS ďCourt MartialĒ) defending MakíTor, going up once again against prosecutor Ariel Shaw.

When you begin reading The Case of the Colonistís Corpse you already know whom that corpse will be and who will be accused. Following Earl Stanley Gardnerís classic template, authors Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella introduce the main characters and step by step set the stage for the murder. They provide plenty of suspects, carefully establishing who would have cause to want Latham out of the way. Daniel Latham as a character is the perfect victim for evoking in the reader a sense of outrage at his untimely demise. He is a man that is both likable and honorable.

The whole point to this type of mystery is that the reader already knows that the accused is innocent and the fun lies in trying to pick out the subtle clues along the way and guess Ďwho done ití before the denouement of the real culprit at the climax of the story. My only real dissatisfaction with The Case of the Colonistís Corpse was that that climax came much too swiftly. The courtroom scenes were very short and fast-paced.

By wrapping it up so quickly and easily the most interesting character in the story, Sam Cogley, didnít get as much of an opportunity to shine in the courtroom setting as I would have liked. I was looking forward to some theatrics and a bit more drama. That being said, Sam Cogley, as a character, was still a treat to read. Brilliant, eccentric and devoted to justice, Cogley is a 20th century man living in the 23rd century.

Because the story is set during the second season of the original series, Kirk and crew do make an appearance but their role is limited. The Case of the Colonistís Corpse is not a story that requires familiar characters to make it work, and that is one of the most refreshing aspects of this novel. You are certainly aware that you are reading a Star Trek novel, but at the same time you donít have to have an intimate familiarity with any of the characters to appreciate the story. Colonistís Corpse may be a departure from the usual Star Trek fare but it is both an entertaining and welcome one.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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