Recovery Man is the sixth Retrieval Artist novel from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and the best evidence to date that The Disappeared was meant to be a great stand alone novel rather than the beginning of a series because while the topic had clearly drifted from the premise by the second novel, by Recovery Man it’s entirely off the rails.
Recovery Man is premised on the oldest detective novel cliche there is and the most irritating one, that the detective’s personal life is intertwined with his own cases. In this case Kristine Kathryn Rusch retcons frantically to jam Miles Flint’s life into that of a Disappeared, but the real goal seems to give him yet another female sidekick, this time a wisecracking computer hacker daughter he never knew he had. All this might not be nearly as irritating though if Recovery Man didn’t feel like a weak pastiche of the better parts of The Disappeared.
Recovery Man isn’t simply phoned in, it’s clumsy and seems all but determined to frustrate and annoy the reader. Am I exaggerating? Miles Flint spends approximately 2/3rds of the novel looking up information on computers that the reader already has. Follow Miles Flint around while he discovers what you already know. Watch him go to an internet cafe on the moon. Watch him go to his lawyer’s office and use the computer over there. Watch him brood and speculate on what you already know. Yes truly in Recovery Man, the excitement never ends.
What little worthwhile there is in Recovery Man comes from his ex-wife Rhonda Shindo’s struggle to escape, but that too feels like watered down The Disappeared and Rhonda herself is a disposable character which like the novel is only meant to inject Talia into Miles’ life giving him the wisekicking computer hack female sidekick he needed like he needed a space yacht, a wise cracking female lawyer sidekick, a wisecracking female reporter nemesis and so on and so forth.