The Lazaretto – a Goodreads R4R

I posted this review on Goodreads, on a thread devoted to R4R [Read-for-Review] where readers receive a free copy of a novel in exchange for a review.

The novel I chose to review was The Lazaretto, a science fiction thriller by Jason Phillip Reeser. I began by being apprehensive – what would I do if the novel was a stinker? – and ended up being impressed.  See what you think.

* * *

The first thing I noticed about The Lazaretto was its size. At 2,650KB, it is a big ebook. Luckily I adore big books. Once I become seduced by a world or setting, I never want to leave, and I was seduced by the Lazaretto.

Imagine a moon with a breathable atmosphere where it rains a lot, and the clouds never part to allow the sun to shine through.  I cannot think of anything more physically bleak. Now imagine a city on this moon, a city built for the sole purpose of quarantining travellers passing through to other worlds. In such a city, fear of contagion would underlie all social interactions, amongst both travellers and permanent residents. In such a city, people do not shake hands.

But the Lazaretto is more than just a quarantine station, it is also a prison without walls where the sick languish until they die. You see, the only purpose of the Lazaretto is to stop contagion from spreading. Finding cures is not part of the protocol.

As readers, we are introduced to the Lazaretto through the eyes of Gregor Lepov, a private investigator looking for a missing person last seen living and working in the city. Lepov is an interesting character, but he is only one of the main characters populating the story, and that is both one of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel.  All of the main characters are well drawn, but none of them captivated me, except perhaps for the villain of the piece – The Collector.

Having so many main characters also had the effect of slowing the pace.  And that is really the only criticism I would level at The Lazaretto – the story just moves a little too slowly.

In essence, the plot revolves around a number of mysterious deaths that are classified as murders, but leave the police baffled as to means and motive.  Finding the ‘murderer’ involves the coming together of a number of disparate characters and story arcs, including that of Gregor Lepov.

All of these characters and story arcs contain a piece of the puzzle, and how they are woven together is both organic and very clever. But it does happen slowly.

In some ways, the structure of The Lazaretto reminds me of Tad William’s Otherland. As in Otherland, the story revolves around an ensemble cast, rather than just one or two main characters. Unlike Otherland, however, The Lazaretto is not a series, and so has had to compromise between the needs of the individual story arcs and the plot.

As with any compromise, something has to give, and in the case of The Lazaretto, the pace suffered. But only a little. Overall, my enjoyment factor was very high, and I found myself thinking about the world and its culture long after I finished reading. For me, that is always indicative of a very good story.

I should also mention that the writing is excellent. This is a mature novel by a very good writer. I would recommend it to anyone who craves something more than just a quick read and light entertainment.

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

8 responses to “The Lazaretto – a Goodreads R4R

  • EllaDee

    That you were still connected to The Lazaretto after you finished reading it, is testimony enough… I like the way your review was both complimentary and honest… a book reviewer with integrity…. hmmmm… your services will indeed be in demand 🙂


    • acflory

      lol – Thank you kind lady. I’m making it my mission in life to search out great indie writing. Which reminds me, I have to update my recommendations page. -sigh- maintenance is not my strong suite.


  • josh

    I just invited you as a friend on goodreads. So if you see a friend request from a strange Josh, that’s me!


  • lorddavidprosser

    There must be a magazine or newspaper there that would benefit from your book reviews. They’re always fair and informative and you don’t spoil the reading pleasure by giving away the plot. They’re always a delight to read and I know many authors are glad of them so why not readers too. Go on. offer your services.
    xxxx Hugs xxxx


    • acflory

      Um… thank you? But if I wrote /for/ someone else I wouldn’t be able to choose which books I review and that’s very important to me.

      So long as readers approve of my reviews and find them useful I’ll be happy. 🙂


  • Jason Reeser

    Thank you so much for your wonderful and thorough review of The Lazaretto. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I just wanted to add that this book is the first in a trilogy. The second book, Lady in the Lazaretto will be released later this summer. You can check my blog for more information as it gets closer to August. I’ll also admit I’ve never read Tad Williams’ Otherland, but I am now intrigued by it. I’ll keep an eye out for it.


    • acflory

      Thanks for popping in Jason, and I’m looking forward to book 2! The Lazaretto is too unique a world to leave at just one story. 🙂 Will the Lady be Maria?

      lol – sorry, but she immediately sprang to mind. Don’t say anything in case it’s a spoiler.


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