Spade is in Garland, Texas, hanging out with people he likes instead of going to Unity Con, a convention he has sworn not to attend because it’s been organized by a group, or rather two groups, of people at the heart of a major brouhaha around the Hugo Awards a few years ago. They’ve now decided to start a new convention, uniting fandom – and they’re all sf pros, not the fans these two groups look down on as mere amateurs. It isn’t just that Spade doesn’t like most of these people. It’s that he sees a disaster that could create problems for all convention-running fandom if they have anything to do with it.
Spade is staying away. Far away.
Then he gets a call from Paladin, who is at Unity Con.
There’s been a murder.
One of the major organizers of the con, a man Spade met and immediately clashed with years ago when the organizer was a young man just entering fandom, is dead. Paladin has only just managed to secure the scene and get the police called, and this is really important, because in addition to the man being dead, the funds raised to pay the property where they’re holding the con have vanished out of the account. This isn’t just a murder. It’sa murder and embezzlement that could wreck organized fandom for years to come. It’s Spade’s worst nightmare, and he wants to stay far away from it. And Paladin is asking him to come. He can’t say no to Paladin.
He’s also by far the best forensic accountant in fandom.
Coincidentally, Unity Con is held at the ranch where Justice Antonin Scalia previously died. There’s a short-lived attempt to cover up the death at Unity Con the same way Scalia’s death avoided a real investigation. Spade is soon at the ranch uncovering alarming secrets, and becoming more and more convinced he was right about what a terrible idea Unity Con was.
It’s a fun story, although, like Spade, I wouldn’t have wanted to attend Unity Con.
(WMG Publishing, 2021)