Dust Bunnies with Teeth
Silver Master by Jayne Castle (a pseudonym that Jayne Ann Krentz uses for her futuristic novels) is touted as the fourth book in the Ghost Hunters series and there are references to the Arcane Society series that she writes under the Krentz and Amanda Quick names, but it is not necessary to read any of the other books to get this one, as it is a stand-alone.
Some time in the past, space-faring colonists have set up camp on a planet called Harmony which is riddled with underground alien ruins. Unfortunately, some sort of spatial cataclysm cuts off their contact from Earth leaving the colonists stranded and scrambling to rebuild their civilization back up from scratch. Silver Master takes off at the point when the colonists are back up to a technology level on par to early 21st century except humans have developed psychic powers.
Celinda Ingram has just settled in Cadence City with her matchmaking job (aided by her foolproof ability to tell when two people are compatible) after escaping her hometown due to a scandal when the local law enforcement pays her a visit. The owner of the store, where she bought a toy for her pet dust bunny Araminta, was murdered in an apparent act of random violence–but the toy is no ordinary toy. According to Davis Oakes, a security specialist working for the Guild–the equivalent to the mob, the toy is a valuable alien relic. But before Celinda can hand it over, Araminta takes off with the relic.
I like how Castle keeps the origins of the dust bunnies mysterious. These animals are probably native to the planet and on the surface their behavior seems rather straightforward. But their relationship with their human counterparts is at best quirky and enigmatic. And although the characters speculate on a dust bunny’s psychic bond with its human partner, they still don’t know how it works. However the real strength of this novel, similar to Castle’s other work, is the interaction between the primary characters. The conversations between Celinda and Davis spark with wit and they work through their own problems–from Celinda’s fear of the scandal she left behind to Davis’ hang-ups about his own unusual psychic abilities–without so much of the melodrama that litters other books.
One caveat though: If you’ve read one Krentz/Quick/Castle book, you can pretty much predict how the others go. It’s not so much the detail but the overall plot, themes, and character archetypes that are reused. I’d probably compare it to Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth. But hey, the monomyth has worked for thousands of years. And even if Castle is retreading her own version of the monomyth, it’s still something fun to read.