I came across Andorra Pett some time ago, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding her to my TBR. Pett isn’t exactly a common surname. I hope to ask the author how he picked it later, but first, the book review. And then an interview with the lady herself!
This is part of the Great Escapes Book Tour – and I’m very grateful to Lori Caswell for squeezing me in at the last moment 🙂 And of course, Andorra Pett gets onto my Alphabet Soup reading challenge – and that’s run by Lori, too.
Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe
by Richard Dee
Andorra Pett has left her old life behind. But has she only swapped one set of problems for another?
Andorra’s on the rebound. Her only thought is to get a world away from her cheating ex. With her best friend Cy in tow, she invests her meagre savings in a run-down cafe. Never mind that it’s on a space station orbiting Saturn, or that Andorra is accident-prone and can’t make toast without a recipe and a video. Surely running a cafe can’t be that hard, right?
When the body of the previous owner is found in the freezer, Andorra’s plans hit some turbulence. She quickly finds that the dead man had enough information about the darker side of station life to embarrass a lot of people, they all want to know what he knew. And she’s in the way.
As the body count begins to rise, can Andorra turn her luck around in time to catch the murderer before they strike again? After all, she might be the next victim.
First off, I’ve had this book on my TBR with the original cover since 2019. And that’s how I’d thought of it, until I joined the blog tour and saw the more appropriate new one. More appropriate? Well, I was under the impression it was a kids scifi book… it’s only when I read the blurb properly that I realised, not only that I was wrong, but that it’s a sort of scifi cosy mystery (and definitely unsuitable for children).
But the feeling persisted, mainly because of the easy-reading style of the story. It could easily be written for ten-year-olds, but for the content – murder, mystery and promiscuity of life aboard a space station. A mining set-up, two hundred years in the future, just hovering on the outskirts of Saturn. Which is slightly odd, since the cafe is nowhere near the Oort Cloud, and is called the Ucky Strike (the L has fallen off, and everyone calls it that).
Once my mind had adjusted, I settled down to enjoy a very interesting cosy mystery, with Andi settling into a new way of life, which allows for detailed explanations of how the space station and the mining operations work, all part of her getting to know her new home. The world building is well done, the author’s ecosystem science first class, and some of the descriptions are fantastic. I did find it somewhat odd that most of the ‘internal’ technology, like communications, scanners and security codes, seem to be placed in the 2010s, but I know from experience how fast scifi authors’ imagined tech gets out-dated. I threw in a couple of throwaway lines about ‘so much tech being lost in the Robot Wars’ to explain some of the more backward tech in my books. The explanation of inertia was a bit heavy-handed, too. But maybe the author is looking for cosy mystery readers more than light scifi readers.
It’s a good story, with plenty of twists and turns, and a somewhat ‘handed on a plate’ solution. But every enjoyable, as cosy mysteries should be.
About the Author
Richard Dee is from Brixham in Devon. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then he went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986.
He has also worked as an Insurance Surveyor, Lockmaster, Harbourmaster and Ships Pilot, taking over 3,500 vessels up and down the Thames, passing through the estuary, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge.
Since the publication of his first Science Fiction novel, Freefall, in 2013, Richard has written another twelve novels, a textbook and a selection of short stories. He has been featured in several anthologies, including 1066 Turned Upside Down, Connections and Tales from Deepest Darkest Devon.
He writes Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures and also chronicles the exploits of reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett.
Richard is married with three adult children and five grandchildren.
Meet Andorra Pett
I’m so thrilled today to meet Andorra Pett. Mainly because she’s the only Miss Pett I’ve met who isn’t a relative–and the only other one is six years old, as the others got married!
So, welcome, and what should I call you?
I’m Andorra Pett, but you can call me Andi. My father worked in Andorra before I was born. Enough said.
Please tell the readers what you look like…
I’m as tall as Napoleon. Alright, I’m short and curvy. My mother said my best feature would be my Queen Anne legs. I think it’s my hair. It can be a bit uncooperative, but there’s lots of it, it’s very dark brown and it shines. My appearance is not a subject I like to say too much about. On the space station, we don’t go in for showing off, it’s more a working gear place. Suits me.
Curvy is definitely a Pett trait. Where are you today and what are you doing?
I’m orbiting Saturn (on a space station, OBVS), trying to work out what I’m doing here, running a café frequented by truculent miners and their bored wives. Then I remind myself it’s better than sitting in Greenwich crying because of the way my life was turning out. At least I’m doing something.
What is your favourite food?
Anything that is moving slowly enough for me to grab. I’ve never met a calorie I didn’t like. My favourites are cake, chocolate, chocolate cake, you get the idea.
Oh, dear. It definitely runs in the family. What is the worst thing you’ve had to eat?
My own cooking, My friend Cy reckons that I couldn’t do toast without a recipe, and a video. When you think about it, opening a café, selling food was the logical thing to do, wasn’t it?
Well, probably, although most Petts are great cooks; possibly not my father, but my brothers are great! But I’m making this too personal. What is your background, your home, your role in life? Did you have any training for this role?
I was a fairly successful dress designer who fancied a change. No that’s not true, I needed a change, thank you, Trevor. As for training, when all else fails, you read the instructions, right?
Ah, yes. Winging it is good. So, what is the most exciting thing you’ve done in your life?
Leaving Earth and cheating Trevor far behind. And now I’m about as far away from him as you can get. It made me feel good at the time, still does.
Here’s a situation: You come face to face with your worse enemy. How do you react?
Been there, done that, Surprisingly for me, I kept cool and dealt with it. Then I had a good cry, when nobody was watching.
Oh, well done. I like that. What about phobias? What are they and how do you cope with them?
I used to be frightened of spiders. I thought there wouldn’t be any on a space station. Wrong! I was cured of that phobia, in the best possible way, by Derek.
Derek sounds nice… What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?
It used to be to make sure that I’d locked the doors, now I don’t bother, It never seemed to make any difference. It’s a long story.
Okay… Who is your best friend?
That was Maisie, we grew up together and shared everything. There was a clue, if ever I saw one. We don’t talk now. You’d better ask the cheating scumbag, Trevor, why that might be. I don’t talk to him any more either.
Hm. I’d like to give that cheating scumbag one in the eye for you. Let’s forget about him, quick. What is the one thing you’d most like to change and why?
I wish that people wouldn’t be so quick to judge me. OK, I can be a bit clumsy sometimes, or get things wrong but I work it all out in the end. We can’t all be slim and sophisticated, like my sickening sister.
I never had a sister, so I can’t help you there. Who would you most like to be with in a life-or-death situation and why?
My best buddy Cy, because he nearly always knows what to do. And he makes me laugh in the face of adversity, so it doesn’t seem so bad. He reckons that between us, we make a half-decent detective, it’s the beset compliment I’ve had in ages.
Aw, that’s great. I like Cy. He reminds me of my once next-door neighbour, Jason. He’s in my latest book Zanzibar’s Rings.
Thanks for the interview, Andi–let’s go and get some cake. I do this fabulous chocolate beetroot cake – it’s lush.