Space Murder

Captain Liz Laika came from a prestigious family, graduated at the top of her Academy class, and had a stellar future ahead of her in the Fleet. Then a family scandal ruined her reputation, even though she was innocent, and she lost the respect and honor for which she’d worked so hard. Now Liz commands the most ramshackle ship in the fleet, one that runs on spit and bailing wire, and struggles to cope with the hatred poured upon her by Fleet Administration, managing her small, ragged crew on supply and mail runs.

Their latest assignment is to transport a group of wealthy Ceruleans to the planet for the king’s upcoming wedding. Although no one has informed her of the passengers’ identities, she knows that the tall woman is the outspoken Vanessa, the king’s bride-to-be, accompanied by her shorter, deferential sister, Wylene. Not that it matters … until she finds one of the passengers dead in his cabin, his head neatly severed from his torso, with blood everywhere.

Following protocol, Liz immediately reports the crime, and a pair of investigators are sent to the ship in record time. The senior detective is her ex-fiancé, James Markswell, who insists on brittle formality, and Officer Halston, who has copied Liz’s former high-maintenance look down to the last swipe of winged eyeliner and purple-tipped hair, and makes it clear James is her partner in more than work. James treats Liz with such cold rigidity that it’s a relief for all crew to be confined to their quarters, although not for long.

And then strange things start happening.

It’s clear James believes she murdered the Cerulean passenger, and Liz realizes she’s been set up, although it’s not clear by whom. But her crew of outcasts unites around her, recognizing that things are not as they seem, which may be the grace that saves not only Liz, but all of them.