Redline the Stars by Andre Norton and P.M. Griffin (1993) – It’s always hit or miss with these “Andre Norton and” novels. Sometimes, I have the feeling Ms. Norton merely glanced at the story as it was being written by someone else. Other times, I think she had a great deal of input. Her last solo novel was written in 2005. While this one was really a good story, I didn’t get many Andre Norton vibes off of it (although she wrote the book’s intro). Having read over a hundred of her books in my life, I hope I can see her hand in things.
This story is based on characters she created twenty years earlier in Sargasso of Space, Plague Ship, Voodoo Planet, and Postmarked the Stars, and Ms. Griffin does an excellent job of bringing these characters to life. However, her main claim to fame is the addition of a female protagonist to the manly crew of the Solar Queen. Rael is a doctor, half-alien, daughter of a wealthy Free Trader, is loved by plants and animals, a dancer, and is also certified as a cargo master. Before you think she sounds like an over-qualified Mary Sue character, I can tell you she has problems with being such a perfect, well-rounded individual. She doesn’t work well with her brother, the head of the Free Trader firm started by her father. She also isn’t well-liked by the crew she’s temporarily signed onto. They insist she’s trying too hard to put everyone else out of a job.
The captain, after Rael uncovers a back-alley murder spree and buys some highly precious stones at a market, begins to suspect she may be psychic. But it’s not her, it’s actually another crewman who has prophetic visions, and he knows the planet they are on buying gems is going to be destroyed.
The captain and Rael uncover an unsafe storage facility of highly flammable chemicals just as an accident causes the entire city and spaceport to explode. Barely escaping, they help the survivors and stop a major explosion.
I’m not sure there’s any romance between the two heroes (Andre Norton didn’t cotton with no fraternization), but in the end, Rael decides to stay on the Solar Queen because the captain says she makes ship life much more interesting.
I’ve read this book several times, and if I’ve written a Cannonball review about it previously, I apologize. I did like Dr. Rael a great deal and need to see if these two women wrote anything else together.