Bryan is back, but he’s no longer a policeman. He’s now in charge of an American handegg team (You can’t call it football if you don’t use your feet) training them to beat the only other handegg team on the planet. He’s also married his one time second in command, who has replaced him as the head of police. However, due to an accident involving large amounts of radiation he can’t have kids.
The Ark has made planetfall and a large number of people have settled in the new city, though there are problems. After spending their lives inside a spaceship, the open spaces are giving some people the jitters and they want to return to the Ark, while others have decided not to leave the ship at all, including most of the command crew. Well, after a lifetime in near zero gravity they’d probably collapse anyway.
Most people, however, are adapting, but as with all things human, some of the baser instincts are rising to the surface, among them greed.
Atlantis is far away from the humans’ new city and contains intelligent, native life. In terms of technology they are stone age, but theirs is a thriving culture, albeit divided into several tribes. The humans have left them alone, watching from near (via a rover that a tribe worship as a god), far and from space, but that changes when a group of exiles make landfall there, making first contact. The initial contact goes well and soon, the two groups are learning from each other, including the language.
Then greed enters. Atlantis is full of ores that the new colony needs if it is ever to get back into space and where there’s a need, someone has a way to exploit it for their own ends.
The story gets darker from there on when murders occur and protests take place. Bryan is sent with a small group of people to meet the Atlanteans and see what damage has been done, while his wife, now the head of the police force, investigates the killings and the mysterious disappearance of satellites.
There are battles, deaths and some lucky escapes along the way, while tribes fight with tribes and gods are shown not to be gods.
It’s another detective story, but, as in the previous novel, the action does not let up, except for the moments when you need to catch your breath and find out more about the people and the place they find themselves in.
Who incited the protests? Who’s responsible for the murders and who is behind the greed. Not everything is a surprise, but there is a bit of kick two thirds of the way through that may catch you out.
In short: well worth a read.