Review: A Change in Management by RJ Johnson

RJ Johnson’s Change in Management: A Jim Meade Martian PI Novel, is an interesting mix of science fiction and detective story. Jim Meade, a Runabout, doesn’t have much going for him. He has no money and is trying to make ends meet by competing in Zero-G fights. These contests, which often result in death, entertain the colonists on Mars. Meade doesn’t concern himself too much with the political situation in the world. In 2097 there are two main powers: The Consortium and Coalition. All Meade cares about is winning his next big fight.

When that fight goes awry, Meade finds himself in serious trouble. He owes one of the most dangerous warlords money. That’s bad enough. But when an old friend, who is a Coalition officer, asks him to help clear her father’s name, Meade jumps at the chance to make a quick buck and pay off his debt.

Meade, though, doesn’t catch many breaks. The easy job turns into a nightmare. Meade’s reputation is ruined, his life is threatened, his friends are in trouble, he can’t turn to the authorities for help, and if he fails, the fate of humanity may be in jeopardy. That’s a lot to put on one person, especially one who usually only looks out for himself. Fortunately Meade has guts and integrity.

Having a detective novel set on Mars is a brilliant idea. At first, one may wonder if any writer could make it believable. Johnson does. Right from the start there are twists and turns and at points the reader may wonder how in the heck one person has such an imagination. Once you start this novel, it may prove difficult to put it down. Each chapter and each turn energizes the story.

Meade isn’t the smartest guy, but he is entertaining. Watching him wiggle his way out of situations is hilarious at times and cringe-worthy at other times since he just can’t keep quiet. He has to be a smartass, even when it’s to his detriment. His two sidekicks, while not completely developed, add to the fun. The dialogue keeps the story moving quickly. Adventure stories like these can’t have dull moments and Johnson deftly keeps the action going at warp speed.

While the story will keep most readers glued to their seats, one aspect may stop others in their tracks. There are way too many errors. Most of them are simple and they may only occur in this particular Kindle edition. But commas occur where there should be a period. Some sentences are missing key words. Occasionally the wrong character is referred to. Good thing the intrigue of the story helped me overcome this issue otherwise the experience would have been painful. Instead it was good, but could have been great if these issues were kept to a minimum. This won’t stop me from reading other books by Johnson since he is a wonderful storyteller. But I do hope he will address the problem so I can say, “What a fantastic book!” The potential is there. I give Change in Management four out of five stars. If it was free of all those pesky errors, I would have given it five stars.

(Editor’s Note: The author has informed SPR he has released an updated version of this Kindle file and these errors should now be eradicated.)