Roc, August 2003, 6.99, 352 pp.
Trimalchio IV is the home base of Star Risk, Ltd., a mercenary outfit headed by Friedrich Von Baldur that takes on unusual cases and political hot potatoes. Von Baldur went AWOL from the military arm of the Alliance to escape his court martial. Other members of the group include Jasmine King (an operative who might be a robot), Grok (a Chewbacca looking alien), and Riss (who quit the Allied Service after squaring off with her lecherous commanding officer).
The former premier of the Planet Dampier hires the team to free an intelligence officer accused of selling state secrets to the Torguth homeworld. Both Dampier and Torguth claim the Belfort worlds even though the former currently controls them. The ex-premier believes that there is still a highly placed mole in the government and he wants Star Risk to catch the culprit. Once they arrive on Dampier they are immediately caught up in the politics and espionage shenanigans of the planet and must hire mercenaries to guard their own backs if they want to live to free an innocent man and catch the traitor.
The members of Star Risk are a lovable bunch of misfits who use self-deprecating humor to keep from taking themselves too seriously. Though some supporting items seem familiar such as the skyball game they play seems Harry Potter like and Grok the Chewbacca intellect, these elements are actually fresh and different once the reader clears the surface. The world of Dampier is a treacherous place, particularly suited to the battle-hardened mercenaries who meet force with even more force. Chris Bunch is one of the top authors of military space operas.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner