Baron Franklyn Must Die by Allen Scudwry is a science fiction novel of a future drug war. Set in the 24th Century, space travel, warp speed, and planetary wars are all present. Baron Franklyn is a ruthless drug dealer and operates on a scale the would make Pablo Escobar look like a street corner dealer. Susan is an agent for Interpol hoping to track down her parents’ killer. She was saved by Interpol when her family was killed by a drug dealer’s henchmen. Susan works with fellow her partner, fellow agent James Banahan, to track and bring down the Baron. Also working to bring down Baron Franklyn is a mercenary known as Weston who, despite living in the 24th century, is a master with a sword. The drug that the story centers on is the drug that brings down worlds, the highly addictive “Butterfly.”
There are a couple of things in this book that caught my attention. First, the writing and the story seemed different from your typical sci-fi novel. It reminded me of watching The Avengers as a child. Maybe it was the “Britishness” of the series or my young age but there seemed to be much more than the simple “good guy – bad guy story”. I had that same feeling with this book. There are some completely unexpected twists and some twists that I could not believe I missed. Another thing that caught my attention is that this book could be a copy of our modern world. Much like the original Star Trek carried messages that went well below the surface of the story — racism, for example. Here the drug war and unrestricted capitalism seem to occupy the undercurrents of the story. It is interesting to note that three hundred years in the future that the supply sided drug war is still less than successful. The supply is greatly in demand especially when coupled with a worldwide depression. Corporations are still more interested in making a profit than in making a product. As evil as the Baron is, one of his supporters remarks, that the Baron will probably look for a legitimate business once the economy turned. There is no right and wrong for the Baron only winning.
Baron Franklyn is a complex story with complex characters. It is also fairly easy to relate to the plot of the story. If it were not for spacecraft and advanced technology, this could be a contemporary crime novel with lessons to be be learned. Bad guys, cops, a vigilante, a drug war, are all present and in a believable format. Not everything is what it seems like either. The reader will question some the character’s motives and intentions. Everyone has a side they are playing in the story, and the reader will need to keep track and determine who is working for whom.
Baron Franklyn Must Die is a thinking person’s science fiction novel with pockets of reality built into the story. An excellent read for fans of science fiction, crime stories, and also something for those who are looking for a parable of the modern world. I found Baron Franklyn enjoyable, intriguing and well worth the read.