Day of Fire
The futuristic saga of 2176 begun in The Legend of Banzai Maguire continues in Kathleen Nance’s Day of Fire. This time, the series voyages to a future version of Canada for another high-tech SF thriller.
In 2176, Tri-Canada is completely cut off from the rest of the world, quarantined ever since disease decimated much of population a hundred years earlier. With the epidemic now under control, there is a growing movement to open the country’s borders again. But the discovery of a new strain of virus might put an end to that idea before it can form.
Day Daniels is a Mountie, dedicated to upholding the laws of Tri- Canada. When her partner is murdered, she intends to see the killer caught at any cost. But the last thing she wants is to be partnered with a plague hunter from Health Canada. She doesn’t have a choice when Dr. Lian Firebird tells her he found traces of a new strain of smallpox on the body of Day’s partner.
In order to stop a new outbreak, they make their way through the underground world of No Border fanatics and black market smugglers to find the killer. They also discover an unexpected attraction for each other. But Lian isn’t telling Day everything about himself, keeping secrets that could destroy her hard-earned trust for him.
In some ways, this book is better than the first in the series. While Grant’s book was a fitting introduction, Day of Fire is more complex and more densely imagined. It builds on the earlier story while developing a distinct and detailed world of its own.
Perhaps any story like this is doomed to be compared to JD Robb’s Eve Dallas books, which I thought of more than once while reading it. Fortunately this book more than held up to the comparison. Day is a strong, tough, capable heroine. Raised by a Mountie after her parents died in the epidemic, she considers the organization her family and does her best to live up to its ideals. The enigmatic Lian is a good match for her, more than able to go toe-to-toe with the strong-willed day. I always love seeing a book where the characters are equals, and here, they really are. They each have interesting backstories that are very specific to the world they live in. While both of the characters have sadness in their pasts, the story never wallows in their angst and issues, simply allowing these details to shade in their characters and leaving it at that.
Seeing a futuristic version of Canada is certainly a nice change of pace from most books like this. Nance’s vision is very well drawn, creating a believable future world with an abundance of details big and small. All the little touches about different technology and the governmental changes are neat, but it’s also nice to see what hasn’t changed. Of course, we all knew not even a plague could wipe out Canada’s love of hockey, eh?
Readers hooked by the first book may want to know that this one isn’t as exhilarating as that one was. While there are a number of action sequences, it’s a little more evenly paced and less of an outright page turner. It is a pretty long book, and does have its share of slow parts. But the time and care the author spends developing her characters and this world are certainly worth it.
So far, this series is two for two. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.