Star Trek: The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah

Star Trek: The Vulcan Academy Murders - Jean Lorrah

After a skirmish with a Klingon ship Kirk, McCoy and Spock accompany an injured crewman to Vulcan for a revolutionary medical treatment - a treatment which Spock's mother is undergoing at the same time. Problems arise when a third patient mysteriously dies... accident or sabotage?


This novel was published in 1984, so it doesn't take into account anything about Vulcan tradition that was established later on in canon. Within TOS it is set a few months after Journey to Babel.


There are a quite a few things I enjoyed immensely in this novel. First of all, the depiction of Spock's family, his relationship with his father and mother, the relationship between Sarek and Amanda, all serving to paint a picture of misunderstanding, respect, pride and love more detailed that Amok Time (why weren't Spock's parents there?) and Journey to Babel could. It's a marvel to think that Spock's parents made such an impact in only one episode, more than most other characters can claim for themselves despite having appeared more often. If I had to nitpick a bit it would be that, while they work as persons, Sorel, Corrigan, and especially T'Mir lack a bit of background. Why did Corrigan come to Vulcan? Etc. But I guess that would have been too much for a 250p. book.


Then there are the original characters, the Vulcan healer Sorel (and his family to some extent) and his human partner Dr Daniel Corrigan who incidentally helped Amanda carry Spock to term. This novel is as much about fleshing them out as it is about Spock and Sarek. And even though I'm loathe about original characters in a tie-in novel, they simply work and come across as nuanced and real as the TV-protagonists - but without taking anything away from them. I guess it's difficult to introduce new characters in tie-in novels because you have to cater to an audience who wants to read about well-known characters. So, to find the balance of old vs. new must be really hard. But this is something Lorrah definitely excels in as she's shown here and in her early TNG-novels.


And I have to say I was intrigued by the Vulcan traditions and lifestyle Lorrah introduced in this novel. Some have since become obsolete by new canon, but in this context it just works.


If there has to be some criticism then it's especially aimed at the investigation into the perceived system failure - once it's established that a crime has been comitted, Kirk starts to investigate himself and forms a list of likely suspects. But he doesn't think of the simplest (and therefore most obvious) of all motivations which makes this part of the novel a bit tedious.


Overall, this novel has its flaws, mainly the rather obvious plot and the lack of background characterization in the original characters, but it manages to continue the family reunion of Spock and Sarek in a very satisfying way. And it certainly whets my appetite for Lorrah's next TOS-adventure.