This is a relatively early Star Trek novel and it shows. Vulcans were one of the obsessions of the early fandom (…with good reason), and this novel obviously flows out of that. The bulk of the novel happens on Vulcan, largely at the Academy of Science, and Sarek’s home.

It does a good job developing the glimpses given in The Original Series, and filling out Vulcan culture a bit. Even better, the strained relations between Sarek and Spock are handled very well, and are the main character-driving action of the novel.

Plot-wise, it is less successful. We start with a quick action sequence of the Enterprise against a Klingon ship that feels horribly cliche, but its entire purpose is to launch the main plot. One crewmember is injured beyond the ability of twenty-third century medicine to help, but there is an experimental procedure being developed on Vulcan….

Problems start plaguing the facility where this is happening, and it becomes apparent that what seemed like inexplicable malfunctions are murder….

Sadly, the murder mystery element to the novel is the weakest. A little more tension on whether it was murder or not might have helped, but one look at the title undermines anything that could be done on that question. Then the identity of the murderer isn’t that mysterious as there’s too few logical candidates. And some of the sub-threads from this are a bit weak thanks to amateurish writing that starts relying on too many exclamation marks (a problem Lorrah thankfully outgrew in all her further novels).

Overall, it’s actually a fairly solid novel, but purely for character and setting reasons. It has been decades since I read The IDIC Epidemic, which is a sequel of sorts (it starts shortly afterwards, and features some of the same secondary characters), which I enjoyed quite a bit, and was part of the motivation for reading this one. If I am remembering it well enough, it is Lorrah’s best book, but this is a good place to start before going on to it.