“In this debut space epic, a crew of thieves and con artists take on a job that could pay off a lot of debts in a corrupt galaxy where life is cheap and criminals are the best people in it. The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune, and adventurers traveling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job. And they never talk about their past—until now. Captain Ichabod Drift is being blackmailed. He has to deliver a special cargo to Earth, and no one can know they’re there. It’s what they call a dark run…And it may be their last.”
Dark Run is formulaic, though that’s not a bad thing, but it did reminded me more of a Western than a true space romp the book is sold as. British author Mike Brooks apes a lot that has come before and could be described as the UK version of The Expanse series of books by James S. A. Corey or Joss Whedon’s Firefly. But where Corey’s tales involve a lot of politics and universe building, Brooks forgoes a lot of that for lean, often funny, but never really deep take on interstellar travel. But it never reaches the cleverness of Whedon’s beloved sci-fi western either, which makes it plowing through the book an effort, which is odd considering the praise on the front and back cover of this book. It really does not match what I just read which clearly means that I need to read some reviews from real readers and not be taken in by other authors who are looking for a nice return blurb on their book before checking out something new.
Ichabod Drift is really a dumb name for our Han Solo/Mal Reynolds type hero mold that Brooks was going for here (though we also get Gideon Xanth, Annie Eclectic, and Nana Bastard, so subtly was not what Brooks was after), and while he shows some charm, the character vacillates between that lovable rogue aspect that girls swoon over to just being a plain ass. There are other things that I find odd, but now that I know there is a sequel out it explains why we don’t get too much back story on Drift’s crew –those will be forthcoming in later books; I really need to know why anyone would want to be on his ship, because as a leader, Drift’s methods are questionable at best and, again, sadly formulaic.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost assuming that a lot of characters and ships (the Serverus) that are in Dark Run were named after Brooks’ favorite author creations? For those that just want a pointless, sometimes fun romp that you’ll quickly forget after reading it, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, I’ll watch Han Solo in Star Wars and Mal Reynolds in Firelfy, or better yet, pray November comes fast enough for the next book in The Expanse series.