JAG in Space: Against all Enemies, by Jack Campbell
Against all Enemies has all the sharp twists and turns of a ten billion megawatt array-laserbeam. It spins and weaves over the space lanes like the twenty-nine lanes of I-10 does out west from Houston in Texas. The surprises are so swift and fast that by the end you’ll feel as if you’ve been savaged by a dead sheep. In one incident, at around page 250, the defense lawyer is suddenly revealed to have the same surname as the prosecuting attorney. Either that or the editor had fallen asleep and missed this page. It may be that the editor slept through the two specifications two on the charge sheet forty pages or so earlier as well. (S)he might have thought legal charge sheets use an arcane ancient numbering system for listing charges that goes specification one, specification two, specification two, specification three, like the Australian aboriginies’ (apocryphal) one, two, many system, but dead to the world would be my bet. I bet no-one missed that the presiding judge was Captain Campbell. Or that the last few pages are the most sloppily sentimental slush ever seen in an SF novel.
Despite all that it’s entertaining stuff.
In this final outing for the JAGs the USS Michaelson has been involved in a joint action with South Asian Alliance and other foreign warships to evict some squatters from an asteroid. I thought that was the plot in … or was that a rescue … never mind. Fanatically religious squatters who could potentially be end-of-the-world-is-nigh, especially-if-we-divert-this-big-rock-so-it-causes-a-mass-extinction-event-on-Earth, Waco-type fanatics. But then it turned out that the South Asians were on an extermination mission, not an eviction one. Rules of engagement limited the Michaelson’s response.
At this point the spooks ask Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Sinclair to help them catch the spy who’s been leaking secrets to the SASALs. With just two suspects and some pretty obvious if not-quite-legal ways of pinning the culprit it’s not quite clear why they need his help, but they do and he has to make sure he doesn’t tip-off either suspect that they’re on the trail. He helps, and they catch their spy. After that all the fun of the trial begins.
Better than book three of the series, an easy read, and a sensible decision to end Lieutenant Paul Sinclair’s legal career at this point.