Publisher: Carina Press (2015)
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Homicide detective, Lieutenant Kyle Tanner, successfully captures the brutally sadistic serial killer known as The Reaper, whose modus operandi is to systematically dismember his victims while keeping them alive to suffer as long as possible. Tanner receives orders to transport The Reaper from Pluto, where he and his soul-mate Shaheen are stationed, to the CCF Home System where the killer will stand trial. Tanner, more dissatisfied than ever about the CCF contemplates a way out, a way to fall off the grid to start life anew on some distant outpost free from oppression and the totalitarian military regime of the CCF. At least, that’s the plan as soon as he and Shaheen complete their mission to deliver The Reaper to authorities in The Home System.

Along the way, their small transport ship loses power as some unseen force shuts down the systems aboard the ship. Tanner, Shaheen, and his prisoner are left to drift aimlessly in space with a disabled drive and a damaged communications system whose crippled range won’t allow them to call Pluto or any other station for help.

As the number of failing systems grows, their fortunes change. A research ship in the vicinity, the Phoenix, passes within range to receive their distress call and rescues them. But all is not well aboard the Phoenix, either. They have hit the same anomaly and are battling systems shutdowns of their own, albeit with more success.

As the story progresses, Tanner is sure of three things, none of them good: The crew is hiding a secret. No help is on the way. And he a Shaheen will be dead within three days.

Johnston is a master at blending science fiction, mystery, and thriller genres into a captivating read. The Void is well written in the first person, past tense, from the protagonist Tanner’s point of view. The characters are well fleshed out, engaging, and believable. The does contain mild sexual content, though nothing overly graphic. And there is violence, more than this reviewer expected in light of his previous experience with the Kyle Tanner series. This occurs at the very beginning of the novel and almost crossed the line. Then the story takes over and picks up speed leaving the graphic violence behind. (See Chanticleer Reviews of Book 1, The Furnace and Book 2, The Freezer.)

In deep trouble on an unfamiliar ship with the odds stacked against him, Tanner must determine who is enemy, who can be trusted, and what secrets lurk aboard the Phoenix.

The Tanner Sequence by Timothy Johnston won first place in the 2015 Clue Awards in the Chanticleer Int’l Writing Competitions.