Spolier Free Summary: Where Enemies Sit by Rob Howell is the first story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More.
Frasier MacKenzie is on trial for the death of an entire colony of Saidar, but his hatred for the species isn’t why he killed them all. The trail isn’t to decide his fate; that’s already been determined. Rather the trial is an opportunity to bring to light secrets that must be uncovered.
Character: This felt a lot like A Few Good Men with a twist in which Jessep’s role is taken by someone who must need to speak that truth. (I feel you should have to watch A Few Good Men to get the reference. I mean, it’s a great movie.) That said, MacKenzie isn’t the power of presence Jessep was. Then again, if Nicholson played a plaster wall, that wall would be the most interesting wall in history, so perhaps the comparison is unfair. Unfair or not, the plot of this book felt much like AFGM, so it’s fair (in my mind) to compare the characters. The truth is, this piece (while having some action) is far more about the trail in which MacKenzie is forced to only speak. Being a fan of proactive characters who are sympathetic, putting a character in this situation made it hard to connect. He has his moments, but his actions during the drama of the trail didn’t grab me. However, the end caught me off guard and yanked at my heart strings. That deserves mention. It would be unfair to call MacKenzie boring. He’s actually very sympathetic. If you like crime drama or the trial portion of Law and Order, you’d love this story. Add to that some great action, and you’re really on to something. That said, trial stories aren’t usually my bag.
Exposition: This story had a justifiable amount of exposition considering the 1st person narrative scenes. Here, Howell cleverly uses high action scenes to break up the drama of the trail.
World building: Again, I’m new to The Four Horsemen Universe, which was created by Chris Kennedy. If anyone’s read the series and this anthology, I’d like to see what they think. I knew what I needed to know for the scope of the story. It’s unfair to hold authors on a guest anthology to a standard that demands going over material that’s likely covered in the main series. I wasn’t lost, but I probably didn’t get the same pay off for some of the reveals as one who knows the series better.
Dialogue: The dialogue of this book was not bad. The problem with that is that it’s a trial story, so the dialogue has to be amazing. Think about the famous trial movies? For every one out there, you can probably name at least one popular quote from the movie. (Example: You can’t handle the truth!) The truth is, it’s be quite a while since I’ve read Where Enemies Sit, but it’s been even longer since I’ve seen AFGM, and I can still probably rattle off 40% of that movie. I remember the end if this story clearly, and the end made the story work. What I can’t remember is most of what was said or spoken during the trial, and I feel that hurt its potential.
Description: This is probably the strength of this story. If I compare the action portion of this story (the sequences between bits of the trial), the action is fast and furious, and the description is just how I like it. Even the scenes of the trial have a perfect balance of detail and movement. I think this is a strength for this author.
Overall: Fans of trial stories will find this story interesting, and the ending is powerful enough for any fan of science fiction. The action in the story is fun and compelling. The trail portion probably doesn’t hold up to die-hard fans of that niche, but for fans of action sci-fi, the trial provides a nice sort of balance to the action and helps give context to the scene. I also think that fans of the universe will have more of an emotional connection to the history of the characters or at least those species, which would only help to add value to what is already a solid story.
Thanks for reading,