What can I say? Like the other books in this series, Double Jeopardy is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a ripping yarn about the members of an elite military force, who after countless hard fought battles are finally beginning to show their cracks. It’s a good read for anyone who likes Military Fiction, and delivers commentary on the present state of our own militaries in the way that only Senior NCOs can.
As the fourteenth volume in the ever-growing Starfist series it’s probably not the best one to start with. You don’t have to have read all the previous books to enjoy this one, but you should know the characters before tackling this one. For those familiar with the series, however, this is a very strong edition that continues to show the authors’ first hand familiarity with war and what its like to fight it.
With a tag line like that, what more do you really need to know? The Starfist series follows the adventures of the 34th FIST (Fleet Initial Strike Team) Marines as they fight to defend the Confederation of worlds set around Earth. While the Confederation is the largest union of planets, it is not the only human government in the region, and as the series progresses, it becomes clear that other species are also lurking out their in the stars.
When reports of alien attacks on a non-aligned world are sent to Earth, the Confederation fears another Skink (badass aliens who threaten human space) incursion. To those in charge, it seems logical to send the one unit that has more experience with both Skinks and other alien races to handle it. The problem is, these men are close to the breaking point. Facing unreliable intelligence reports, corporate run mercenaries who ignore interstellar law, the continued loss of friends and comrades, and the difficulties of a personal life while on constant deployment, there is only so much even the best Marine can take.
If this storyline sounds a bit familiar, there is no surprise. Subtle and none-to-subtle praise and criticism of the realities of American military are another earpiece of this series. With ever-present respect to the men and women in uniform, Sherman and Cragg deliver commentary on the way the military is run in a manner that only former senior NCOs can. This time, the target seems to be our present policies for troop rotation, and from what I’ve seen, they hit the mark dead on. They don’t condemn it; they simply describe the price paid by the men and women who have been living in combat zones for too long. This element of the book not only touches home, but also adds to the believability of the characters and the universe. It makes me look forward to their next offering.
Having said that, however, Double Jeopardy does have some weaknesses. After fourteen volumes, there is now a huge cast of characters. As a result, few of them get enough airtime to satisfy me. Personally, I might prefer to have one or two characters skipped over (or mentioned peripherally) in one volume and then focused on in the next.