Knave In Hand

M. L. Janifer

Knave in Hand (1979) 216 pages by Laurence M. Janifer.

I just read a couple of Gerald Knave stories, and when I updated my database, noticed I had this novel by Janifer on my shelf.I opened up the book, saw the easily readable font and the short length, and figured I could knock this one out in a few hours.It was a quick read.

Knave is brought on to Haven IV, home of the non space-faring Tocks after the crown jewels have been stolen.Humans have colonized Haven II and Haven III, IV being too cold for humans, but after years the two human planets sent delegations there.The Tocks are snakelike in appearance, and have a peaceful culture with very little violence and law breaking.Haven II has an embassy on Haven IV, and Haven III has in an identical building a consulate.

Right as Knave is being greeted after landing his one man ship on Haven IV, they get word that General Tal has been assassinated, and more violence ensues without any discernible reason.The mystery is why is all this happening. The meat of the story though is how Knave can fix the situation. Knave goes to the embassy where there is an incident, then meets with Nassanank and Jessiss (King and Queen of the Tocks), on to HQ to meet with General Roven, back to the embassy but meets a riot along the way, spends the night in the embassy, and then presents the answers. Interspersed with the action are Knave's thoughts on what is going on.

The book really goes fast.Not Hugo material, but pleasant reading.

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