Out Today! The Nova Incident The Galactic Cold War Book 3 by Dan Moren @dmoren from @angryrobotbooks #BookReview #scifi #espionage

The front cover for The Nova Incident. The cover shows a city with a skyscraper on fire and a space station above it. The colour scheme is blue so the fire stands out.

The Nova Incident The Galactic Cold War Book 3 by Dan Moren

Angry Robot, pb, £9.19

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

The front cover for The Nova Incident. The cover shows a city with a skyscraper on fire and a space station above it. The colour scheme is blue so the fire stands out.

A terrorist attack in the Commonwealth capital city of Salaam brings the cold war between the Commonwealth and the Empire too close to home for Simon Kovalic and his team. Especially when a one-time team member belongs to the independence group, which claims responsibility for the attack. Kovalic’s team is ordered to investigate the ex-spy’s involvement, and the more he unravels the independence group’s plot, the more Kovalic realises the implications of the attack have a galactic reach. With lies and deception on all sides, Kovalic doesn’t know who to trust, including his own team.

The third instalment of Dan Moren’s Galatic Cold War series brings us into the supposed safety of the Commonwealth. We begin with an explosion that locks down Salaam’s transport and communications, and the action continues at a breakneck pace throughout. As this has happened on home soil, this is out of Kovalic’s jurisdiction, but he isn’t going to let that stop him from investigating an ex-colleague’s involvement. These two things, the setting and the characters involved, made The Nova Incident more intimate than the previous two books and involved more spycraft as Kovalic ended up on the run from friends and foe alike.

This means The Nova Incident is more intense with higher stakes than the other two. Kovalic loses his team’s trust and suspects the general, his boss and an imperial defector, or Kester, the head of the CIA, has helped the independence group. Addy, the team’s newest member, is pitted against the others when the general asks her to assassinate the ex-spy without telling Kovalic, and she uses covet methods, spying on Brody, to do this. In the end, we don’t have a resolution to the overarching treachery, setting us up for the next book, but there are plenty of big reveals and explosions for a satisfying ending.

I have two issues with The Nova Incident. The first is there wasn’t enough of Natalie Talyor. She is a badass character, intelligent, independent and unflappable. She gets stuff done. But Taylor isn’t really in this story until the end when she comes back from whatever mission she was sent on. However, that’s a minor gripe, and I trust Moren will tie her absence into the story later.

My second issue is the relationship between Brody and Addy. In the time between The Aleph Extraction and this book, the two live in Brody’s flat and have formed a relationship. We’re never told explicitly it’s a sexual one; however, after a disagreement, there is a reference to Brody sleeping on the sofa, so I feel it’s implied. My issue with this is it came out of nowhere. During The Aleph Extraction, all exchanges between them are of Brody helping Addy fit in. It does fit that he would continue this by letting her share his flat while she settles in, but not that it would go further. That said, the added tension between Brody and Addy, especially when she tells him she wants to find her own place, heightens the emotions when she spies on Brody to follow the general’s orders. Nothing is murkier than a spy’s love life.

The Nova Incident is the best book of the series so far, and I can’t recommend it highly enough other than to say I have spent my money on the series’s prequel. It is a high-octane, cloak-and-dagger adventure from start to finish, ending on a cliff-hanging that will have me watching for the fourth instalment like a meerkat on lookout.