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The Last Dance

(The Near-Earth Mysteries #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,462 ratings  ·  360 reviews
At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars.

In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative
Kindle Edition, 456 pages
Published November 1st 2019 by 47North
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Cat There's a prequel too, Murder on the Aldrin Express where the characters of Aames and Carver are introduced.…moreThere's a prequel too, Murder on the Aldrin Express where the characters of Aames and Carver are introduced.(less)
jhanami The title of the sequel is The Last Campaign and it is out on 6 October 2020. It's available for pre-order on amazon.…moreThe title of the sequel is The Last Campaign and it is out on 6 October 2020. It's available for pre-order on amazon.(less)

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  3,462 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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Charles  van Buren
Review of Kindle edition
Publication date: November 1, 2019
Publisher: 47North
Language: English
456 pages

This novel is hard sci-fi similar to that which I used to read in the 1960's and 70's. Rather than very distant future science, the technical details are based on logical advances in current science, particularly some work by famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Even with the emphasis on hard science, the story line and character development are not neglected. There is a fascinating cas
An excellent novel - I got it absolutely by chance as it featured in the Amazon prime email with the selection for the beginning of the month free prime book (which I generally ignore as I already have enough books on deck so to speak...), but the title, synopsis, and cover of this one attracted my attention and then I saw some very enthusiastic reviews, so I decided to give it a try and while the first few pages are kind of boring and almost made me put it aside, I did my usual routine on promi ...more
Guy Marsden
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Good story but structural flaws bugged me.
Every chapter begins from the perspective of a character as if they are sharing their experience verbally but the writing style does not support this. It jumps to omniscient 3rd person and each character sounds just like the last. So for the first page or 2 of each chapter I struggled with willing suspension. It really got in the way of a fluid read. Also every character male, female, British or Brazilian spoke in the same "voice" - that of an average wh
Kimberly Lynne
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got my geek on. A multi-POV tale of a Mars-bound mutiny . . . or was it? Bonus points for diverse cast.

The story is primarily told during "off the record" crew interviews about Capt. Nick Aames so that investigator Park Yerim can gain background on the personality and person of the accused. I found the second such "deposition" - that of Bosun Smitty, to track way into the technical weeds - Literally the nuts and bolts of a particular incident. Those pages read more like The Martian's "science t
Julie Davis
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The last time I enjoyed a new science fiction author this much was when I read Leviathan Wakes. Like that book, this one feels like something from the Golden Age of Science fiction, while being something brand new.

Inspector General Park conducts a series of "off the record" interviews while investigating charges of mutiny against the captain of a Martian-bound spaceship. That's the framework for a series of stories that range from mystery to Martian survival to estranged love. All are building b
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can't remember where I picked this one up on my Kindle. It is the first one by Martin L. Shoemaker I have read and it won't be the last.
Wonderful space opera with varied and compelling characters, a complex plot and it introduced me to some new Brazilian music. Always a plus.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rejected
Starts well, but then gets very dull indeed.
Paul E. Morph
I read this as part of Amazon's 'Kindle Firsts' scheme, more or less on a whim, and I'm so glad I did as it turned out to be one of the best SF novels I've read in a long time.

It's actually a SF/legal drama/mystery novel, really, and blends genres effortlessly. I loved the set-up, I loved the character studies, I loved the structure... I loved that a couple of times I found myself reading a story in a story in a story... and I loved that the ending managed to throw me a curveball I didn't see co
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
You care so you finish but

Good characters you care about them and want to know how it all ends up. But very long winded and the stories within the story become repetitive, too detailed for the purpose they serve ( opinions will vary in this i am sure) and too many. Found myself page scanning not reading until the last chapter. Do recommend this read but it gets tedious feel free to fast forward.
Dave C
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good Reading

I enjoyed this book. The author did an excellent job of creating characters whose stories came to life via an effective combination of introspective thoughts, off the record conversations and formal depositions.

The setting of the “Express train” between Earth and Mars was described in the very first chapter showing where this was based on astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s plan “Cyclic Trajectory Concepts,” published in 1985. I admit that I didn’t really understand the concept after reading ch
Roger Jackson
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Last Dance is an excellent science fiction and suspense novel. To me, there really was not a "mystery", so I'm not sure why that it is the subtitle. Don't go into this book expecting some big twist in the plot, or a grand mystery to solve. However, if you like science fiction, then the science it good. If you like political suspense, then you will like this for sure.

The writing is excellent. The plot is good, but not the main focus. This is a character driven story, which I prefer. The use o
Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, abandoned
2019 grade Z

I actually tried to read this several times but never got past the first page. This time I put more effort into it. I still only finished 2% the book. It is such dedicated first person POV that it took me a while to even learn the gender of the protagonist (I don't care which gender but I need at least a small mental image.) Virtually every paragraph is a long boring information dump. The setting is depressing as are the characters. Sorry, I did not like it. Thankfully is was free.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A series of shorts tied together well

I hope there are more Near-Earth mysteries because this was a great background universe and the characters totally pop. The characters each have a nicely written backstory and the dialogue develops the characters.

Well put together book with a neat background universe. I'm looking at his other books.
Julie W
Nov 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, abandoned
Abandoned this novel at 18% (beginning of Chapter Four).

By the time I abandoned this, there was still no clear main character. Two of the three chapters I read (chapters one and three) were first person POV of the supposed main character, but we learn almost nothing about her. She's 'obsessed' (because it's her job) with finding out what she can about Captain Aames (the other potential main character).

The entirety of the very long second chapter is told from the point of view of a supporting cha
Ellie at BookBucket
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-arcs

Rounded up to 4.5 stars.

The story is centred around General Inspector Park Yerim, on whose shoulders it has fallen to investigate allegations of mutiny brought against spaceship Captain Nick Aames. The story is told predominantly through a series of 'off-the-record' accounts by crew members of previous events in which the captain played major parts. It is through these accounts that the investigator and the reader come to form an understanding of the compl
Katherine Coble
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.
I have that list of perfect books—those books that make you so so happy you spent time in that world. Rothfuss, GRRM, JKRowling, Both Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga and World of the Five Gods. Blood Song. Megan Whalen Turner.

I’ll add this one to that list eagerly and happily because this is honestly a _WONDERFUL_ book.

It’s a terrific story that is magnificently told.

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it is a book about i
Linwood Ferguson
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most unique science fiction books I have read lately. It is reminiscent of some older Asimov sci-fi mysteries, modernized both in terms of science and more sophisticated in terms of society. Well rooted in science and a realistic space faring period, it avoids entirely some semi-magical late-breaking scientific solution, and instead develops characters deeply and generally realistically (I might argue that despite carefully built foundation the main character is still a bit d ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good book, but Aames is too much. Not only is he the smartest guy in the room, he is the smartest on the entire ship. The concept for the Aldrin is really cool, I wonder if it will come to fruition and make Mars travel a little easier and way more fuel efficient. I liked the way the book was structured and appreciated Aames’ high expectations, but I wish that he was more imperfect and did not have ALL the answers.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Humans being human, in space.

An intelligent detective interviews a ship's crew concerning their abrasive and talented captain. Stories told by friends and enemies assist the detective and reader in making a judgement. It was fun read. I'll purchase more shoemaker stories for sure. This book would make a great tv show!
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Hard science fiction, narrated by a genuine novelist. An exceptional piece of uncommon quality for this genre. A very pleasant surprise.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a regular reader of science fiction but what I'm looking for when I do read it is to encounter imagination, entertainment and hopefully if I'm lucky to gain a little knowledge. On all three counts Martin L Shoemaker has succeeded here. Reading from the author's notes and biography it is clear that he is well versed on the mechanics and requirements of space travel to Mars, indeed he describes himself as "a programmer who writes on the side."

From this technical basis he has used his imagi
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Character study of an old grumpy, stickler for rules, captain.

This was an algorithm generated recommendation from Amazon. After reading a few of the reviews others posted on it, I decided to give it a try, and was pleasantly surprised. This isn't your typical sci-fi novel. If anything the space and science is simply there to propel the novel true intentions, which is a character study of Nick Asked. Story is broken up into sections of IG Yerim investigation on Earth-Mars space ship Aldrin. An ev
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Couldn't put it down

Great science fiction. Good plot, good science, good characters. What more can you ask for? The ending is a bit too easy but still works.
Angele Florisi
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This Was Just Awful

This was such a disjointed and disappointing waste of reading time. You aren’t even introduced to the basis for the story until you’re 80% into the book. The characters are almost all thoroughly unlikable, it’s more a bunch of independent writing exercises than a well constructed novel that was worth what I paid for it — nothing.
Suzanne Eisenhauer
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars. I'm not really sure why I continued reading this book even though I obviously wasn't enjoying it. I wasn't a fan of how the story was told and struggled to find much if anything to like about many of the characters. ...more
S.G. Willoughby
I'm not sure how to rate this. On the one hand, this was some pretty GREAT writing. On the other hand, there was some immoral content that I strongly object to.

-The world-building! There was a lot of very technical concepts and words in this book, but I loved it! I loved how much it was based on real-world theories and the fact that the author worked for NASA (if I'm not mistaken) certainly didn't hurt the believability of it all. All the small details were what really got me. Like how san
Paul DiBara
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A story set in a future very close at hand. In the expanse between Earth and Mars is an expanding technological vessel, Aldrin, composed of tubes, spokes, and artificial gravity that is hanging together based on the brains, brawn, bravery and shear tenacity of the engineers, technicians and support personnel who keep everything working according to plan. This entire complex is also a traveling community with the purpose of moving people and material between the earth and a new outpost of humanit ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the sea of sameness which is the contemporary science fiction literature, I think a certain degree of originality must be recognised to The Last Dance. But it is not an originality which comes flawlessly as the author takes some risks to this end and not all pay back fully.
I'll review this book along the three typical pillars of a Sci-Fi novel:
PLOT: it's good, in my opinion, and told in a rather intriguing fashion, i.e. as an investigation of an alleged mutiny aboard a spaceship shuttling bet
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Four and a half stars, rounded up. This is a well plotted near-future sci-fi story, grounded in very believable space science and orbital mechanics. I especially appreciated the description of Buzz Aldrin’s “Mars cycler” concept for a practical and affordable path to moving material and people between Mars and Earth in support of a viable economy. The story delivers fast-moving events without getting bogged down in descriptions of scientific details. The characters are varied and individual, the ...more
LTC Larry Davis
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Captivating tale where details matter

Showmaker has created a wonderful novel here, focusing on how one man's obsession with details and being right actually becomes the unifying force behind a team of space explorers. Capt. Nick Aames tended to alienate lots of folks, but those who measured up to his high standards of performance found themselves to be part of community of trust, a group where everyone had a vested interest in trusting others. And it's Aames' obsession with being right that caus
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Ciannon Smart has been holed up in her England home since the pandemic began a year ago, but by no means has she been idle. She’s been on...
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