Rating:

5 Small Stars
Outcast of Earth
Started a new series with this book and wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Even with the prologue didn’t give me any idea of what was coming.  I thought this was going to be some kind of space detective story, but that was totally wrong.
Solomon Cready is our main character and that sounds like a name for a main character.  It’s easy to pronounce and probably was the results of someone knowing a thing or two to name their child, Solomon.  Only thing is, this Solomon is a thief, a very good thief that has done something really stupid and bad.  He’s going to prison and there’s no way out of his situation, even if he could get out of it.  What he did was unthinkable for him on a few months before.  Yet, the deed is done and now he’s going to pay with his life.  Or is he?
The normal penalty for murder in 2205 is to be shipped out to Jupiter’s moon, Titan, where you will dig frozen CO2 ice until you hit a methane pocket and blow yourself to kingdom come.  In chains and headed up the space elevator in the most minimal of transport boxes, Cready and the other criminals with him definitely don’t have much to look forward to.  Then they meet Warden Coates of the Department of Justice and Defense.  He’s the sick bastard that will be transporting this bunch of criminals all the way to Titan.  Only this trip won’t be done in a jump ship.  No, that’s too expensive to waste on mere criminals.  Much to Warden Coates’ delight, he gets to show these new criminals their “star ship” and its accommodations.  Those accommodations are best described as coffins!  In actuality, they are suspended animation or sleep pods which will barely keep a human alive on their long journey to Titan.
Only after an unknown amount of time, Solomon Cready is woken from his deep sleep to find out he’s now on Ganymede, a Marine Training Base.  Some how a select few of those criminals that left Earth were short-stopped and expected to become Marines; Outcast Marines.  Their term of enlistment was 12 years.  As long as they passed the physical conditioning and the training, they would live out their contract and then were free to do as they pleased.  Only, they had to live past their upcoming training and that wasn’t guaranteed.  What was guaranteed was that if they failed anywhere along the line for any reason, any reason, they would be shipped right to Titan and spend the rest of their life wondering why they had failed!
Solomon Cready isn’t especially military; he’s never had any kind of military training, but his activities as one of the better thieves on Earth taught him how to think strategically and tactically.  You couldn’t just waltz into a building to steal some precious object without knowing how to do it correctly.  He also had to work with some pretty questionable people and he trusted no one.  Now some of his civilian skills would be put to the test.  One thing Solomon already knew was that he was very good at solving puzzles.
I really like the way the story was written.  It’s not too far out in what they are doing.  Still there are some inconsistencies in the story.  One mission in particular has Cready and his squad doing a “Search and Rescue”, yet he’s just assigned the submission of locating a downed shuttle.  Once that’s done, his team is told to return to base with their mission accomplished, yet he’s found the person that they were searching for but questions whether he should actually rescue her.  He doesn’t have any way to contact his higher HQ during this entire mission which is pretty strange.  He knows he’s just one slip-up from getting shipped to Titan, so does he complete the mission as he feels he should or does he blindly obey Command and leave the hostage?  Read the book to find out.
Lastly, this book seemed short.  Or maybe I’m just reading faster now days.  Either way, it kept me involved right up to the end; a very good book.  I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.