Read sample chapters, in PDF format

348pp, 6" x 9" trade size paperback
cover by Jade
paperback -$23.95; ebook - $9.95

"A thrilling sci-fi adventure of interplanetary drug wars, mind-bonding and gay passion..."

On the high-tech worlds of the [23rd] Century, the lethal designer drug Angel has become an epidemic disease. Kevin Jarrat and Jerry Stone are joint captains in the paramilitary NARC force sent to combat the Death's Head drug syndicate that controls the vast spaceport city of Chell. Under the NARC code of non- involvement each of the two friends hides his deeper desire for the other. When Stone is captured on the urban battlefield and forced into Angel addiction, Jarrat's love for him is his only chance for survival ... but the price is that their minds will remain permanently linked in an empathic bonding.

Cover notes from the original printing:

"In his second novel, Australian author Mel Keegan keeps up the action and suspense of ICE, WIND AND FIRE, displaying the same imagination and confidence in the SF field as he did in the comtemporary thriller.

reviewed by RANGER
I've read and re read this book now not a few times in the two weeks I've owned it, and I knew it very well to begin with. I seriously looked forward to the re release, and the book is entirely transformed. It always was GOOD, but it wasn't the fantastic that Equinox is, there always was a lack of the depth to it that made Equinox such an involving read. Mel Keegan plots are always riveting, but he has a real gift for writing characters strong enough to keep you interested all by themselves. There are some Keegan characters who I swear could just sit and chat in a park and still keep you reading. And this goes for minor characters as well as major. Kip Reardon, Harry Del and Gil Cronin are as visual and have as strong personalities emerging through the text as the marvellous Jarrat and Stone. I'd add too that I love the Mel Keegan skill of introducing you to a very minor character that flashes past- Crystal Jones for example- with a few lines that give you a real connection to who that person is and where they fit within the community of Athena. That sense of the carrier and that community is one of the things that make both these books so deeply involving.

The text returned to Death's Head puts it straight back on the level with Equinox, it's turned it into the book it always deserved to be, and for a hardened Jarrat and Stone fan it was a total joy to find those little added gems of information that adds to the characters, back story and plot. It adds a real richness and colour to the plot and to the characters. The background on Harry Del in particular, and Jarrat- for example bringing out further the skill Del has in communicating with Jarrat, there are some tantalising clues there about a man who appears very easy to like but not at all easy to get close to. I've always deeply admired the subtlety of writing in the NARC stories and Ice Wind and Fire about the realities of building and maintaining a relationship with someone who was a 'looked after' child, and in Greg's case, a survivor of abuse - working at the sharp end of that with some children in this situation, the connections to later adult character and relationships are painfully acute and perceptive, and yet so subtle, as they would be in these successful, dynamic men. And the beauty too of evolving relationships with partners able to understand and to support them is again symptomatic of how realistic and how strong the Mel Keegan written relationships always are. Both Alex and Stone have needed at times to teach skills that their partners just don't have- the gym/locker room scene in Equinox is wrenching. How do you at thirty learn to actually share those kind of emotions when you have no previous experience? Moreover how much in love do you need to be to trust someone enough to teach you how to do it? And this isn't an issue either, it's just one element of a complex character and relationship, part of that wonderful depth and strength that Mel Keegan characters have. And how good a writer do you need to be to slip this into the subtext of a complex, multifaceted novel? Pretty damn good.

It's amazing too how returning fragments of dialogue change and deepen your understanding of the central relationship- it evolves much more visibly and strongly in the updated novel, the returned section with the Apogee and shoot out with Del adds a great deal to the plot and the understanding of how Jarrat and Stone came to terms with the empathy and that it wasn't an instant transition. Jarrat actually with the returned dialogue comes over as slightly less mean, moody and magnificent - Not ENTIRELY sure yet if that's altogether a good thing ;) There is something about a man stalking around in armour with a large gun and a really good scowl...

I have enjoyed the reprint of this book and the whole new picture it creates very much indeed, this was a brilliant idea to re release it and I very much hope the sales make it worthwhile, for all the hard work put in and to encouraging keeping ON writing and publishing NARC fiction. I can't wait to read Scorpio.

I have no problem whatever with you using [this email] as a review, I hope it might help to sell you a few more copies, this book needs to be read!

Very much looking forward to the release of Scorpio, and I hope that won't be the last NARC novel either.

REVIEWED BY "Combat Engineer, US Army" [anon., for obvious reasons]
For the record, Mr. Keegan does a great job with the military detail; from weapon and weapon system form, function, and application to the nature and quality of relationships among soldiers and between soldiers and the civilian leaders from whom we get our charter. Keegan's language is beautifully descriptive and his sensitivity to the angst a same-gender-loving soldier might experience in a prohibitive environment is spectacularly on point--rarely sentimental.