Susan Shwartz, . . Tor, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0461-2

Heavy on finance and light on action, Shwartz's new stand-alone hard SF novel makes the excitement of space flight and colonization secondary to corporate kowtowing. Alpha Consultants LLC sends Caroline Cater "CC" Williams to Vesta Colony in deep space to audit an illicit money trail. While crawling up the corporate ladder, CC plans to keep a low profile. However, as she digs deeper into unethical trades, several "accidents" threaten her life. During a routine training flight with the handsome Marc Davidoff, CC spots an unidentified spaceship that may be carrying hostile aliens. Shwartz (Second Chances ) sets up the plot so that CC and her associates gauge whether aliens are good or bad by the way they handle their trades. The not particularly heroic CC mostly gets praised for her good computer skills and her ability to remember and implement basic space training. Predictably, when she has to leap, whether to financial assumptions about aliens or into Marc's arms, it's only too clear that, regardless of logic, she'll always land on her feet. Agent, Richard Curtis. (Dec. 2)