Continuing the story that began in Bonesteel’s impressive debut, The Cold Between, this character-driven space opera successfully mixes interstellar and psychological conflict. Central Corps starship captain Greg Foster and his loyal aide, Elena Shaw, stumbled on some nasty scheming in the earlier novel. That trouble takes an even more deadly form after a bloody attack by furtive raiders on the Central starship Exeter, when help appears in the form of a ship of the PSI, Central’s rival. The uneasy balance of power among nominal enemies is complicated even more by maneuvering factions within each interstellar organization, which makes the background decidedly murky. The people in the foreground, however, are vividly real, especially Raman Celik, the Exeter’s cynical but emotionally needy captain, who struggles to fight through a thicket of conflicting impulses even though he is smart enough to realize that he may be confusing his hunger for revenge with justice. Surprising, convincing character development makes this series worth following and leaves the reader confident that Bonesteel will successfully untangle the plot threads down the line. (Nov.)
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