To Catch a Thief (Ockham’s Razor Book One) by Keith Sheffield

I was recently sent a copy of this novel. It is a romantic melodrama set in a fictional space empire. Or as those with a better grasp of genres and sub-genres than me would call it, a Space Opera. Don’t panic Mr Mannering! There is to the best of my knowledge no shouting the words really loudly instead of speaking them, it is not that kind of opera.

This book follows the fortunes such as they are of the people crewing the spaceship Ockham’s Razor. The ship is named after the ex-imperial Lieutenant Ockham, and of course is a not very subtle mention of Occam’s razor (the simplest solution is usually the best).The rest of the crew have mysterious backgrounds and reasons for joining the crew that will probably form plot hooks as the series progresses.

Having had no experience as a trader Ockham is struggling to pay his berthing fees, let alone make a living wage for his crew. A request to meet a potential customer called Murgatroid (is this a Snagglepuss reference?) cannot be ignored, but the meeting is a ruse to frame Ockham for the theft of a data wafer.

From here Ockham gets mixed up with gangsters and plots within plots, fights, and even the kidnapping of one of his crew. There is a healthy under-current of sexual tension that even the characters are not aware of running through the relationship between Ockham and his mate Onsoon. Onsoon is about as mysterious as they come, and no member of the crew has seen her face or any other part of her skin.

The story does not really end as such, but leads you into the second book of the series. At only 108 pages this is a short and sweet story that does not tax your brain in the way a longer story can. It made a nice change to read such a short story, but it did not feel rushed or hurried. You will be taken back to those Traveller games you played an aeon ago, and it will make you smile.

I plan to read the second part of this series, and would recommend it to anybody who’s after some light-hearted science fiction.

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