The story is set during the Dominion War and is a noir-type story. David Tipton commented: “Set during the most difficult hours of the Dominion War, Too Long a Sacrifice shows the station during trying times: a series of mysterious and seemingly unsolvable terrorist attacks just as the war has everyone strained to the breaking point. We’ll get to see the darker side of life on the station as Odo leads the investigation, with increasingly desperate conditions forcing him and others to deal with new and unexpected allies and to use unusual tactics in their efforts to stop the attacks”. (synopsis (c) Memory Alpha)
Catching up with old friends is always a good thing.
That truism applies even, it seems, when said friends, of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine variety, for this reviewer the best series to ever find a home in the Gene Roddenberry’s long enduring franchise, are caught up in the middle of a whodunnit to end all whodunnits, the kind where Miss Marple, Holmes and Poirot would struggle to compete with the formidable observational power of Odo (played in the series, which ran from 1993-1999 by the legendary René Auberjonois), the station’s chief of security.
Having a much-frequented cafe explode in the middle of the busy lunchtime rush or finding bodies in maintenance shafts or inside a conference room, is not something a chief of security wants in any circumstance, but in the middle of the unimaginable horrors of the Dominion Warm when tensions are high all across the quadrant, it is nightmarish proposition.
Odo, in typical fashion, initially brushes off the pressure to solve the mystery quickly, with the Ferengi, Benzite and Naussican leadership all baying for justice, revenge or a crude mix of the two, depending on their judicial proclivities, but when Starfleet brings in one its top investigators, Detective Retlaw from Betazed, which in the middle of Jem’Hadar occupation, he realises that he may have to cooperate in order to get this most dangerous of mysteries solved.
Responsible for the precious Deep Space Series comic book series, Fool’s Gold (2009-2010), brothers Scott and David Tipton bring a deep love and understanding of the series to Too Long a Sacrifice, a cleverly-unspooling whodunnit which demands a great deal of Odo’s customary patience and cleverness, all while dealing with the political fallout from a war which has created divisions, even within the member peoples of the Federation.
It’s a highly-charged atmosphere, and while these types of noir tales are not new to the Deep Space Nine universe, there is something especially urgent about the need to solve this case, which may have its roots deep in the Cardassian occupation of the nearby planet Bajor.
The Tipton brothers do a brilliant job of keeping the tension nice and taut throughout, doling out just enough clues to keep you intrigued, something which is also greatly enhanced by artist Greg Scott who renders much of the action in noir-type darker tones which set the scene perfectly.
He also captures the likenesses of the rest of the crew including Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney), Worf (Michael Dorn) and of course Dr Alexander Siddiq (Julian Bashir) and Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) whose The Odd Couple friendship is as witty, wise and maddeningly oblique as ever.
Credit has to go to the Tiptons who as well as crafting a lusciously layered mystery, whose resolution is as much as surprise to unobservant eyes as anything Agatha Christie every produced, bring the characters alive with such vivacity and authenticity that you would swear you are watching an episode of the show.
This is important because if anything is going to pull you out of a narrative, especially one as intricately and satisfyingly woven as this, it is finding that you don’t recognise the characters either fully or in part.
After all, we’re catching up with old friends, and while 21 years might have passed for us in the non-Star Trek universe, Odo, Sisko, Siddiq and the others are still in the exact same time and place we left them and we very much want them to act like that.
Thankfully, the Tipton brothers and Scott manage this admirably and we are treated to an engaging, richly-told story in a setting we know and love with characters who feel like family.
It’s the best coming home imaginable, and Too Long a Sacrifice delivers on just about every count, an immersive tale told with insight and a love of the series, a perfect understanding of what makes a good whodunnit and how mysteries such as this are rarely entities adrift but rather are the product of the people, societies, histories and long-held emotions that produce them.
No mystery is an island and it is in Too Long a Sacrifice which enthralls from the first page to the last, bringing Deep Space Nine alive again in ways that thrill and excite and which affirm that contrary to oft-repeated truisms you actually can go home, especially if that home is a Federation space station, on the edges of space in the middle of the war to end all wars.