Chris Bunch’s Star Risk, Ltd mercenary team is back and all I can say is, Thank God! After Bunch died in 2005 after publishing his fourth and presumably final Star Risk novel, it was a tough pill to swallow, apparently for a lot of people, so esteemed sci fi vet Steve Perry and his son Dal stepped up to the plate to write a fifth in the series in Bunch’s style and they did a damn good job, in my opinion. I think they did Bunch proud. I’m not sure I would say this is the best Star Risk book, of course, but this fits in well with the series and certainly doesn’t do a disservice to the name at all.
The book centers around the mercenary team dragging itself back together after being demolished by a huge competitor in the preceding book and wondering how they’re going to get jobs and pay the bills, just when someone walks through the door offering them a job! He’s someone named the Reverend Josiah Williams from the Artegal System, with several planets in it, and he’s representing the system’s workers, who are being screwed by the system and want to go on strike, but are being strong armed by the government into not going on strike by other mercenary outfits and strong arm tactics, and Williams and his people are desperate. And willing to pay. And he dangles a one million dollar check in front of the Star Risk team. Who eagerly accept the job. Hey, they’ve got bills. And they are immediately, right then and there, attacked in their own new, secret headquarters and are forced to defend themselves with lethal consequences for their attackers. Things are serious.
Soon, they’re on their way to the Artegal System. There are four planets and five of them in Star Risk. They figure out an attack plan and begin their “assault.” The weak link is an underboss named Makko. They begin with some of his nightclubs and his alcohol supply, as well as some of his men, most of whom go poof. Makko gets worried. His boss doesn’t like things like this happening. When things like this happen without resolutions, people go poof. Since his right hand man has died, somehow, he appoints a new man who has figured out some things. He has figured out Williams is probably behind things and he killed him, stupidly. Makko’s boss, Susa, isn’t very happy about that. He wanted to know who was behind what was going on in the system, because other mysterious things are happening too. Makko has to make amends.
Meanwhile, now that Williams is dead, Star Risk ponders ending the contract since the person behind it no longer lives. However, someone else steps in – Williams’ son, Joe. I think this is one of the weak links of the book. They have been estranged for decades. Joe is a billionaire through a casino business and has had nothing to do with Williams. They can’t stand each other and haven’t spoken in decades. But he’s heard of his father’s death and wants it avenged and is willing to pay any price to see it through. So, he spends tens of millions of dollars, including over five million to Star Risk and over five million to buy a dilapidated casino and much more to fix it up in order to establish a “legitimate” business front in order to help find those responsible for his father’s death. But would someone who didn’t even care about his father’s existence for 30 years really spend $10-20 million to avenge his death? It seems highly unlikely to me. But then, what do I know of such motivations? I guess it’s possible. At least, in the fictional world of Steve Perry, it’s possible.
Joe dies in a shootout with Makko’s new right hand man and his henchmen and Makko is beside himself. He knows Susa will kill him. Meanwhile, the Star Risk personnel are mega-pissed. It’s now personal. Two of their clients are dead, one of whom had become a friend. It’s bad for business. They’re going to get both Makko and Susa. But how? Both are closely guarded with over 100 armed guards. Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
I won’t spill the details. You’ll need to read the book yourselves. Even though this is the fifth book in the series, unlike other series’, this can be read as a standalone book. You don’t need to have read the previous four books to enjoy and understand this book, so if you’re interested, find this book and read it. It’s a pretty good and an enjoyable read with lots of good action. I’m not convinced it’s a five star book, even though I’d like to give it five stars. I can’t just give out five stars to every book I like just because I like them. Five star books truly have to stand out. This book is very good, but I’m not sure it truly stands out. That said, I think it’s a very solid four star book at minimum. Steve Perry and his son would make Chris Bunch proud, I’m sure, and they sure made me happy in writing another Star Risk book. I just wish they had continued to carry on the tradition and had written a few more. Twas not to be, I guess. Oh well. Good, fun book. Quick read, enjoyable. Good action. Definitely recommended.