The Tesla Legacy by Rebecca Cantrell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Tesla Legacy (Joe Tesla Series 2) by Rebecca Cantrell
I picked this one up on a recommendation, through twitter. It's part of a series; but it stands well alone. There are references that make you want to read the first book, but that's alright. Oddly it's difficult to mention some things about this story without running a risk of spoiling some of the previous story, but to confirm that; I have to first read that one. So this is the warning this might contain some spoilers; or not.
This is a sort of suspense mystery that starts out introducing a character that in some ways seems similarly challenged as Nero Wolf was in this genre. Where Nero Wolf had a mobility problem by being somewhat overweight and usually solved murders from his home; Joe Tesla has his own problems that limit the scope of his mobility. Being extremely agoraphobic he lives in a house in an underground cave in New York. His home is connected to the underground caverns for the steam and subway that exists under New York. His fear is something that might be the result of chemical poisoning and some possibility that someone deliberately poisoned him; though the answer to that puzzle doesn't exist in this story. Joe tries to stick mostly to the underground and mostly what is local to the house that he rents from the family of the lead engineer of the station and tracks of New York underground. This house and the keys for many doors throughout the tunnel allow Joe access to a large perimeter of the playing field. Joe must stay underground because his reaction to the open and to sunlight would make a vampire shiver in sympathetic terror.
This novel has a large cast of well defined characters. And while as such it could be overwhelming, the overall handling of the narrative is quite crisp and clear. In an age when first person writing is becoming predominant in some genre, it's refreshing not only to see third person writing; but to see it crafted so well. Characters get their separate chapter allowing each character to be fully developed and to inform the reader of things that begin to make this less of a mystery of who done it than a suspense of when will the characters reveal themselves or each other and who will pay a price at the climax of that event. And though there is the risk that some of the threads created therein will not be fully realized there is a gestalt of a main story that takes us from a time before Joe's birth to the excitement of the ending in his time.
Joe, having his own problems, is helped around with a companion dog named Edison; he has an ex-girlfriend Celeste who suffers ALS and could die any day. Being a rich software designer, in his crippled state he still consults with Pellucid, the company he created. He tried to be selective when he sold Pellucid to ensure no one abuse the software, but he fears that the NSA are taking advantage of his facial recognition software to keep tabs on everyone and he has trouble reconciling himself between doing what he feels is right and bringing the company down and destroying his constant source of income. Vivian Torres works as Joe’s security and often the person doing his legwork similar to Nero Wolf's Archie Goodwin. Vivian is ex-military, a climbing enthusiast and has a well sculpted body; she's not to be messed with. She also seems to work though Tesla's lawyer, Mr. Rossi, which is important because between her, the lawyer, and Dirk, a part time helper who is a police officer, they constitute something I've seen a lot of in Robert Heinlein's writing. This is the knowledgeable group or couple who help the protagonist, for less than understandable reasons, and keep them out of trouble when possible. And lastly in the mix of the good we have Tatiana, Joe Tesla's mother.
On the evil or not so nice end, we have Ash who is Alan Wright who leads a double life as the creator of a company that helps the environment while staying in the lead with commerce; and as Ash he is the creator of a hacker entity called Spooky, which has some rather shady membership and borders on the potential to become radicalized. Two of his most involved contacts as Ash are known to him as Geezer and Quantum and together the three make an alliance of distrust that hatch a plan to steal the Tesla Oscillator from Joe; though Joe doesn't yet know that he has such a thing. When the target becomes Joe Tesla it molds the story perfectly by keeping it well within the confines where Joe's disability has kept him. The diverse directions of each of the villains in the story add more depth to a somewhat already cluttered plot.
When Joe finally realizes what he had and lost and the threat that it presents, it's a mad dash to try to find and stop an evil he has yet to unmask. In this particular story it's not so much the final outcome as it is the road we take to get there. And there is no lack of excitement on the way.
This is a great SFF novel that works as suspense thriller and has some elements that could almost qualify it with the steam-punk category. Well worth the read; and for some of us it might be a one sit read.
View all my reviews