This Review is from my wife, Leila:
Bones Burnt Black by Stephen Euin Cobb opens with an adrift crewman's view of a major catastrophe. Her spaceship, the mortally wounded Corvus, has suffered an unexplained explosion, and tumbles end over end through the icy depths of space. Inside the ship, the survivors are subjected to intense inverted gee forces and a myrid of other dangers. As if that were not bad enough, it is soon determined by the handful of survivors that the Corvus' new trajectory will cause her to pass dangerously close to the Sun, bringing flaming death and destruction for all aboard.
Immediately the reader is swept up in the desperate life and death struggle as each new challenge presents to the various survivors. Yet another shock is in store for those marooned on the doomed vessel: the cause of Corvus' damage is determined to be the result of sabotage. Then, almost unbelievably, one by one the battered survivors are found brutally murdered. Why, in the face of such calamity, are these cold-blooded acts being committed? Is there a connection to the sabotage? Who is responsible? Time is running out to find these answers as the Sun looms closer and closer.
This story is very realistic in both plot and delivery. The author's treatment of the human element, in terms of action and reaction, rings true. Suspension of disbelief is almost unnecessary. There is no magical ray gun or high tech device to get these characters out of their situations. Survival is by human intellect and timely action, as it is for any disaster. The survival situations that the characters face are not contrived. The twists and turns in the plot are made more compelling by this realism, not only from the human nature perspective, but also from a scientific point of view. This work is science fiction based squarely upon science fact.
The book held my attention and when I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up. Two other thoughts on the basic storyline also come to mind: how too easily insanity hides itself in human society and "Vengeance is a dish best served cold," per the old Klingon proverb. The mysteries that unfold within the pages of Bones Burnt Black are not transparent to the reader and their resolution is hard won by the characters.
I enjoyed this book. I recommend it highly!