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Cold Dark Matter

A Morgan O'Brien Mystery

by Alex Brett

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women sleuths, cozy
list price: $11.99
also available: eBook
category: Fiction
published: 2005
publisher: Dundurn Press
  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel
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Short-listed for the 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel
A Canadian astronomer commits suicide on a desolate mountain peak in Hawaii, and Morgan O’Brien is sent to the observatory to find his missing data. But it seems she’s not the only one who needs those notebooks, and her competitor is willing to kill to get them. But why? To find the answer, Morgan travels from the peak of Mauna Kea deep into Ottawa’s past, where the darkness of the Cold War still obscures the truth.

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Contributor notes

Alex Brett has worked as a science writer, laboratory technician, field research technician, and park naturalist. After almost ten years as a writer, editor, and press officer with the National Research Council of Canada, she decided it was time to have some fun with science, and the first Morgan O'Brien Mysteries were born.

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Editorial Reviews

The impact of modern astronomy is felt in Alex Brett's Cold Dark Matter...Brett, a science writer and field research technician deftly pulls off the near-impossible by helping the non-scientific reader grasp some general principles of astrophysics; specificially, that of cold dark matter, the unseen mass which sits as a halo just beyond a galaxy's visible edge. This is mystery writing at its very best; an intelligent plot, always-surprising characters, and a deeply-textured setting. 

— Mystery Scene, Spring 2005

...a fun mystery with great characters...the settings are all cold, even in Hawaii. Yet there is a deftness of description that wraps a blanket around the reader, providing warmth while trying to figure out the next obscure turn of plot and character development. The subject matter is serious; the style is light and breezy. With summer around the corner, this would be a good book to set aside for your holiday reading.

— The Lethbridge Herald

[Cold Dark Matter] is a well-researched book based on actual events and is much better than the usual detective thriller


— Andrew D. Booth, Physics in Canada

You could call Alex Brett Ottawa's lesbian Agatha Christie. But that wouldn't be entirely fair. Unlike Christie's lightweight books, Brett's murder mysteries have a heavy twist of science for the masses. And that requires a dense writing style that forces the reader to pay attention lest they miss the details.

— Capital Xtra, March 2005

This is more than just a fine mystery. It's full of fascinating information, all told in understandable language. The message, when it comes, is chillingly clear.

— Globe and Mail

Canadian mystery writers are a determined bunch. When the world still offers mere grudging respect, they labour on bending out of shape to show that no matter how much American and British content swamps the market, there's a growing case for made-in-Canada mystery. Alex Brett is a champion of the cause. Although still a neophyte in the business with her second serial mystery (Cold Dark Matter) being launched today, she's part of a new wave washing foreign shores. And not before time ... Award-winning Canadian mystery writer Peter Robinson, calls Brett's protagonist 'a welcome addition to the growing list of female PIs.' Robinson is not a man loose with his praise. Dundurn, a Toronto publishing house snapped up her first science mystery, Dead Water Creek, and spun Brett into one of the country's hot new novelists. 

— The Citizen Weekly (Ottawa)

Alex Brett is a champion of the cause. Although still a neophyte in the business with her second serial mystery launched in February, she's part of a new wave washing foreign shores."

— Mike Gillespie, The Record,

Cold Dark Matter achieves the balance between science and sleuthing that the first O'Brien story never managed... The story zooms along, snatching us up in the opening scenes and never letting us go until the finale."

— Davd Pitt, The Chronicle Herald (Halifax, NS)

...the second episode in a clever new Ottawa-based mystery series starring research fraud investigator Morgan O'Brien...Brett a former science researcher, now science writer, knows how to draw the line on pure science and where to inject actual evidence of Canada's Cold War atrocities against segments of its own science community.

— Ottawa Citizen

Sometimes a mystery isn't just a whodunit. Sometimes it uses lively plot and appealing characterization to check out society's learning curves...Cold Dark Matter is a fast-paced reminder of times gone; [it] also constitutes a kind of parable for the present; explore[s] what can happen to the innocents caught in the crossfire between science, politics and power; in this [Brett] succeeds very well.

— London Free Press

Cold Dark Matter is Brett's second Morgan O'Brien mystery, the follow-up to Dead Water Creek. I have to say that even though I enjoyed the first, the second is even better. I'd hazard a guess that it won't be long before Brett wins an Ellis Award.

— NB Telegraph-Journal, Saint John New Brunswick

This book has everything a reader could want: fabulous, exotic settings; a protagonist you'd like to spend time with; unusual characters; a bit of romance; exploration of important issues; and a plot that kept this reader up until dawn

Buy Cold Dark Matter. Encourage your local bookseller to stock it.

— Quirks & Quarks
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About the Author

Alex Brett

Alex Brett has a B.Sc. from Dalhousie University and did graduate work in fisheries biology at the University of British Columbia. She also spent ten years at the National Research Council of Canada as press officer, writer, and editor. Now living in Ottawa, she works on contract for the National Research Council as well as several astrophysics institutes.

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