This book is about the events of a single day. Although, as usual for this series, the chapters are written by different authors, this volume has a unified plot running thoughout the entire book -- actually one main plot, and two subplots. The main plot is that the Astromer is out to kill the Aces that beat him in book 2. Secondary plots include Wraith's (formerly known as Ghost Girl in Book 1) misadventures when she accidentally steals the wrong thing from a mob boss, and Alligator Jack looking for his niece Cordelia who suddenly left home in Louisianna for New York City. The subplots twist and turn and coincidentally overlap with each other, and to a lesser extent, the main plot. Thus, this feels like a single book written by a single author, even though, as usual, chapters are written by various authors. The writing is pretty engaging and well done, and carries you along nicely.
Although it is nice in some ways to have a cover-to-cover plot (as opposed to multiple discrete stories as found in many of the wild card books), there are a lot of negatives as well. First, the subplots, while well written and somewhat engaging, are perhaps a little trite or pointless, and get a lot of pages. For example, Ghost Girl (n/k/a Wraith), who had a one night misadventure in book 1, is the focus of one of the subplots in book 3 -- and has another one night misadventure. The only real difference is that she gets more pages here. Second, almost no new hero aces are introduced, and there are no new origin stories. Third, the only two villains we spend any time with (besides the Astronomer) both channel the bad experiences in their lives in the course of their kills -- Demise, a villain from book 2, channels his death experience using projective telepathy, and Roulette, a new villain, channels the birth of her baby with the Black Queen (a fatal Joker) to summon poison during sex. The similarity between these two villains is mirrored by the similarity between the Astronomer and Fortunato -- one draws power from sex, murder and torture, why the other draws power from sex. So, at least compared with other books in the series, there is somewhat of a lack of diversity and originality. Fourth, while Hiram has some time and Tachyon is involved, the most interesting characters from the prior books have at most cameos -- the main characters here are the Astronomer, the two villains that kill by channeling their bad experiences, Alligator Jack, Bagabond, Ghost Girl/Wraith, Hiram, Tachyon, Fortunato and Brennan (the Green Arrow type).
I read many of the Wild Cards books 20 years ago. I still remember favorite characters, heros and villains and events, from books 1 and 2, and some that I havent encountered yet in the first 3 books -- i.e., I remembered nothing about book 3. What is missing is the "Geez thats cool" factor found so often in books 1 and 2 -- there is nothing as inventive or original as, for example, Croyd or Modular Man's origin stories here. Nothing to remember.
Basically, you have to judge this book like a conventional book, on the strength of its plot, as there is not enough of the inventive, original, cool Aces and Jokers stuff from prior books. Although the writing is good, and the book is entertaining, the plot cant really compare to the plot of top fantasy books, and as a result, this book just didnt feel like anything special the way books 1 and 2 did.