I am a big fan of Robert J. Sawyer and consider him the best scifi writer available right now. This book fall in his middle of the road efforts (I give it 3 1/2 stars). Having read such excellent works such as the Neanderthal series, Calculating G-d, Mindscan and Factoring Humanity, I was a little bit disappointed by this one which is more a like a scifi version of a John Grisham courtroom novel.
A group of aliens lands on Earth and their ship needs repairs for them to leave. Little is known about them or their actual intentions. In the meantime a popular TV personality is murdered apparently by one of the aliens. The LA District Attorney decides to prosecute the accussed alien calling for the death penalty. An aide to the President tries to help the alien and hires one of the top criminal lawyers who had experience working on the OJ Simpson trial.
The book then turns into a courtroom drama with many pages devoted to boring court procedures (note: it worked real well in Mindscan but this approach falls short in this novel). You expect the other aliens to revolt but they all seem ambivilent to the whole situation.
Not to give away the ending but the case is somewhat solved similar to an episode of the original Star Trek series (no doubt, Sawyer got his idea from it since he constantly reference Star Trek throughout the book).
I definately would not recommend starting with this book if you are new to Sawyer but if, like me, you want to read all his works then you should definately read this.
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Aliens, Tosoks, have finally made contact with Earth, but there are only seven of them, and they've arrived in a disabled spaceship. The Tosoks are intelligent and surprisingly easy to communicate with, and are happy to tour Earth and see what humans have to offer. But during a stop in Los Angeles, one of the human scientists traveling with the Tosoks is gruesomely murdered, and all evidence points to the alien Hask. The Los Angeles Police Department is determined to indict Hask for the crime, even though the aliens have little concept of laws or crime as we understand them. The only thing the U.S. government can do is secretly procure the services of Dale Rice, a leading civil rights lawyer, and hope he can clear Hask of the charges. But as the trial progresses, evidence indicates a cover-up by one or more of the aliens. Humanity's survival--not just Hask's fate--might hinge on the jury's verdict.