The Alice Encounter by John Gribbin

The Blurb On The Back:

There is about 10 times more dark matter (DM, also known here as Alice matter) than bright stuff in our Galaxy.

The DM is spread out in a roughly uniform sphere (a spherical distribution of Alice stars), with our flattened disk Galaxy embedded in it.  The “Alice matter”, is a kind of mirror image shadow stuff; the term “looking glass matter” has been used by some scientists.  Alice matter can be turned into ordinary matter (and vice versa) by sending it though a loop of Alice string, a naturally occurring cosmic phenomenon.

Aliens in the DM world, more advanced than we are, have discovered the trace of 10 per cent “normal” matter in “their” universe.  And have come to investigate it.

Our disk is a perturbation that they are puzzled about.

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The Drop by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Old spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone cafe, he knows he’s witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly, he sets in train events which will alter lives. Bachelor himself, a hair’s breadth away from sleeping in his car, is clawing his way back to stability; Hannah Weiss, the double agent whose recruitment was his only success, is starting to enjoy the secrets and lies her role demands; and Lech Wicinski, an Intelligence Service analyst, finds that a simple favour for an old acquaintance might derail his career. Meanwhile, Lady Di Taverner is trying to keep the Service on an even keel, and if that means throwing the odd crew member overboard, well: collateral damage is her speciality.

A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.

It’s also what happens just before you hit the ground. 

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All Systems Red by Martha Wells

The Blurb On The Back:

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company.  Exploratory teams are accompanies by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot”.  Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighbouring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.  

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The List by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Dieter Hess, an aged spy, is dead, and John Bachelor, his MI5 handler, is in deep, deep trouble.  Death has revealed that the deceased had been keeping a secret second bank account – and there’s only ever one reason a spy has a secret second bank account.  The question of whether he was a double agent must be resolved, and its answer may undo an entire career’s worth of spy secrets.  

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The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Blurb On The Back:

There’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Jumar knows exactly who to call. 

It’s PC Peter Grant’s speciality …

Only things are more than just going ‘bump’.  Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message.  Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow-up interviews rather difficult.

So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.

Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death. 

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