Please welcome Timothy S. Johnston to The Qwillery. The Void, the 3rd novel in The Tanner Sequence, is out today from Carina Press. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Timothy a Happy Publication Day.
THE VOID: A Classic Murder Mystery in Outer Space
by Timothy S. Johnston
Classic murder mysteries are strangely comforting. There’s something so familiar about them. Perhaps this is thanks to Agatha Christie and the works she’s best known for: THE MOUSETRAP or AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. There are common elements in any story of this type: a confined and claustrophobic location, a hostile environment, a small cast of characters including one murderer and one investigator, a rising body count, storms, power outages, increasing paranoia, and a shocking reveal. I knew I wanted to write stories of this type, but I wanted to transform them into Science Fiction Thrillers. This would give me the ability to pick new and exciting locations and also incorporate some science and technology into the method of murder — something the investigator would have to figure out in order to not only catch the killer, but also to prevent his own death.
The formula I’ve used for THE VOID is the same as in any classic murder mystery. However, the location is the fascinating component here, and opening it up to all of outer space gave me some exciting new options. THE FURNACE is set at a station in close orbit around the sun. THE FREEZER on an ice moon of Jupiter. And with my new novel, THE VOID, I chose the vast loneliness of interstellar space. This gave me the isolated, dangerous location. The characters can’t leave their disabled ship. There’s simply nowhere to go. And with the requisite power outages, there’s no way they can call for help. They’re trapped.
Incorporating a scientific component to the plot is always fun, however one has to keep it compelling and easy to understand. I realize that you can’t bog down a story with too much science. At its heart, THE VOID is a murder mystery, plain and simple.
In this story, Inspector Kyle Tanner discovers the body of a woman in her mid-thirties. The crew of her disabled vessel state repeatedly that the death was due to natural causes. Being a homicide investigator, Tanner of course disputes this, but how can he prove it? He has to not only discover the cause of death, but also decipher the clues around him to expose a conspiracy.
I hope you enjoy THE VOID. I wrote it to feel like a comforting traditional murder mystery, but I know readers will love the technological twist I’ve thrown in!
Timothy S. Johnston
20 March 2015
The Tanner Sequence 3
Carina Press, March 25, 2015
eBook, 106,000 words Review Copy: Provided by the Author
It would be easier to kill him than to trust him.
Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for CCF Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. After spending years apprehending murderers, he's ready to hang up his pistol. Babysitting a prisoner will bring him to Alpha Centauri, where he can search for a way to escape the CCF forever.
If he makes it.
When his ship breaks down in deep space and a CCF research vessel comes to his aid, Tanner realizes he's in terrible danger: the scientists on board have blocked his distress call. And when Tanner's prisoner escapes, he begins to suspect that the proximity of the research vessel had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the CCF's relentless reach.
Facing near-certain death by his own organization, Tanner must unravel a tangled skein of vengeance, duplicity and murder in deep space. But he's being held at the will of master puppeteers, and if he can't cut the strings, he'll dance straight to a gruesome, excruciating death....
The Void is the last book in a exciting science fiction thriller series by Timothy S. Johnston. Throughout this series, I've been continually impressed by Johnston's skill in blending different genres. He ends the series on a high note. With each book, Johnston picked a fascinating setting in space, near the sun, a frozen moon and now in the last book dead space. In the area between solar systems, nothing is surrounding our hero Kyle Tanner for light years... except a person bent on killing him and the woman he loves. It shares similar attributes to lost at sea stories. I loved the feeling of being adrift in an all-encompassing void.
Even though The Void is the last book in the series, it's not necessary for the reader to have read the previous two books. Johnston does a great job of giving readers enough information about past events to keep them from being lost. It's also a nice refresher for those of us who read the other books when they first came out.
The mystery this go round was the best yet. I kept thinking I knew who it was, but I was pleasantly wrong. I also enjoyed the action and pacing in this story as it kept climbing towards a climatic ending that didn't disappoint. Nearly everything changes for Kyle. I found the characters in this book to also be my favorite out of the series. The side characters were the strongest by far and very well developed. I would love to see a series devoted to one of the survivors.
Johnston did a wonderful job of bringing closure to Kyle as a character and to the world Johnston created. Everything changed and developed from book one to this last book. You truly go on a journey through the series. Besides bringing closure, Johnston also allows several options to continue the story and I for one would love to spend more time with Kyle.
The Void is a phenomenal ending to a fast-paced electric series. I'm sad to see it come to an end and hope to read more. There is a lot of violence, strong language, and adult situations, so I would recommended it to adult readers only. For those of you who like to read a whole series all at once with no wait, your wait is over. For those of you that want an exhilarating escape, look no farther. With the strong characters, outstanding world-building and blend of genres there's something for everyone.
Note: You may read Brannigan's reviews of The Furnace (The Tanner Sequence 1) here
and The Freezer (The Tanner Sequence 2) here.
Photo by Tiffany Jones Photography, 2013
Timothy S. Johnston is a writer of futuristic and contemporary mystery/thrillers. There is always a technological component to his plot lines, and the science that he uses to propel his stories forward is real and verifiable. His characters are strongly motivated and undergo extreme change; his protagonists each find themselves drawn into intense situations seemingly beyond their control. The stakes are always huge and the outcomes unique and unpredictable. He is dedicated to the art of telling a compelling story and contributing to the genre that has given him so much over the past four decades. He is passionate about writing and committed to inspiring others through his stories. Carina Press is currently publishing a trilogy of thrillers by Johnston: The Furnace (2013), The Freezer (2014), and The Void (2015). This series — The Tanner Sequence — details Homicide Investigator Lt. Kyle Tanner’s emotional journey as he solves difficult cases set in unique and deadly claustrophobic environments.
The Tanner Sequence 1
Carina Press, December 23, 2013
eBook, 115,000 words
(Originally self-published September 19, 2011)
Dead Space, 2401 AD
Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.
When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.
With no one to trust and everyone a suspect--even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen--Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice...
The Tanner Sequence 2
Carina Press, August 25, 2014
eBook, 98,000 words
A Tanner Sequence Novel 2402 AD
CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out in the asteroid belt first. But when you're as tangled up in conspiracy as Tanner is, a few hours on a case can change your life. Or end it.
The mystery is a strange one--one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Still, Tanner's ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first faint clue, but the clock is ticking. He has four days....
A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter's moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds.