In Nebula Award–winning author Jack McDevitt’s ninth installment in the beloved Alex Benedict science fiction mystery series, humanity discovers new intelligent life lightyears away—only for it to disappear without a trace.
Centuries after a war with the Mutes, the first aliens to be encountered by humankind, a startling new discovery in the far reaches of the Orion Nebula appears. On a planet with conditions favorable to life, explorer vessel The Columbia comes across a small town seemingly inhabited by an intelligent species not yet discovered.
But when a highly publicized follow-up mission is sent to make contact mere months later, the entire town has vanished, leaving no trace—or such is presumed to be the case until Alex Benedict and his archaeological crew show up to investigate. Officially, their mission is to find concealed artifacts that may have been left behind, but the team’s real goal is to solve the mystery of how these aliens disappeared so rapidly—and why. In turns terrifying and miraculous, the answers raise the stakes for every member on board as they look to make their mark on history.
Nebula Award–winning author Jack McDevitt, whom Stephen King has called “the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke,” brings back Alex, Chase, and Gabe for another brilliantly crafted science fiction mystery.