is the second book in the Tour of the USS Merrimack
series from R.M. Meluch. I liked the first book quite a lot. It's sci-fi with a slight Star Trek feel to it--action, mystery, horrible alien creatures, interesting science, etc. Great fun. This book wasn't quite as engaging as the first one, but still good fun.
The premise: There are basically two political powers at work here--the US and Rome. Each holds different sectors of space and each is vying for what's left. The Merrimack
"accidentally" runs across a convoy of Roman ships and assumes that they're part of the operation to create a Catapult, a device able to transport large objects from one specific location to another specific location (like a wormhole, but not), something similar to the US's own Shotgun. They engage . . . but discover that their entire controlling system on the ship has been compromised, at all levels. Now they need to find the mole, figure out how to refit the ship so that this doesn't happen again, and stop the Romans from finishing their work on the Catapult. But when the Merrimack and the Romans meet again, they discover that everything they thought they knew about their universe has completely changed.
Again, I really liked this book. Fast paced, some great characters, and the plot device used at the end of the first book allows us to rediscover the characters in a new way in this one. The books have a strong military feel to them, the science and its workings come across as solid (I'm not a science expert so can't say for certain if they are solid), and once it got started, the plot caught me up and kept me riveted to the book.
And that would be my major problem with this book. The part of the plot that was the most engaging, that sucked me in and made my heart race, didn't get started until 2/3rds of the way through the book. The first 2/3rds of the book was set-up for this other plot, but it just didn't pull me in the same way that last third did. That first part had its interesting moments, but it just wasn't as engaging.
But once you hit what I consider the REAL plot of this book, it explodes. It just takes a while to get there.
So, if you like sci-fi military with some political intrigue followed by some heavy-duty action, then I'd recommend this book and series. Just keep in mind when you start this one that there's a significant portion of set-up before you hit the really good stuff. Joshua PalmatierBenjamin Tate