In this sequel to Cold Welcome (2017), itself part of a long-standing military science-fiction series, ex-Adm. Ky Vatta must confront a murderous conspiracy against her family and the government of her home planet, Slotter Key.
In the previous adventure, Ky overcame sabotage, treachery, and abandonment to bring her inexperienced troops safely home and reveal the outlines of a simmering plot against the Vatta clan and business empire. This time out, Moon emphasizes cloak-and-dagger intrigue rather than her heroine’s specialty, space combat. Ky learns that her troops have been seized, drugged, and held incommunicado, while all the evidence of the conspiracy that she so carefully collected has disappeared. And, along with her love interest, Rafe, CEO of a corporation that manufactures instantaneous communicators, she finds herself tied up in legal knots, cut off from her finances, and threatened with arrest and imprisonment. Clearly the conspirators reach to the highest levels of Slotter Key’s government—but who bears Vatta such vicious, long-standing ill will? Ky must discover the whereabouts of her troops before their jailers can permanently dispose of them, while other family members—Grace, the planet’s Rector of Defense, and CEO Stella, whose relationship with Ky has often been prickly—lead the resistance. Once again Moon’s adherence to the military honor code drives and binds the plot’s mechanics while providing a mute and perhaps ironic commentary on modern public affairs. Sadly, we get only a few glimpses of the opposition, one of whom, rather feebly, is motivated solely by old familial grudges and rivalry while another—quite implausibly—disagrees and prepares to betray his own family. And, somewhat deflatingly, it proves to be a yarn that, rather than working up to the conclusion, winds down.
There’s always so much to admire in Moon’s work that, even when she’s not fully engaged, readers will be gratified.