“The Dark Side” by Anthony O’Neill is, at its heart, a typical murder mystery: a disgraced, disfigured, hardboiled detective named Justus (pronounced “Yustus,” not “Justice”) investigates the assassination of a high-ranking scientist, with an amoral billionaire and the billionaire’s promiscuous daughter as his prime suspects.

It’s very typical, except that the action takes place in the future. On the dark side of the moon. In a lovely city of Sin, set in the middle of the region known as Purgatory. Oh, and there’s a malfunctioning, homicidal android on a rampage toward the big city after a bug in his system caused him to take the business philosophy of the aforementioned billionaire quite literally, especially the parts about eliminating one’s competitors with extreme prejudice. (The resulting monstrosity would make even Ayn Rand blush.)

The narrative alternates between the robot and the detective, featuring the less populated parts of the moon as well as the conditions in Sin, the most crime-ridden city in the solar system. The characters – even the minor ones – are beautifully developed. One particularly chapter goes to great lengths to describe the society of high-class thieves. (Think “Ocean’s Eleven” in space.) As the plot progresses, the intrigues abound, the well-researched science continues to amaze, the action scenes excite, and the ending delivers in a beautiful, satisfying way.

I read a lot of science fiction. A lot those books are less than enjoyable, while some are passable but short of excellent. “The Dark Side” comes much, much closer to perfection than most other books in its genre, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Final score: 5 out of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I’ve received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pre-order on Amazon (release date: June 28, 2016)