Star Trek: Stargazer is an interesting series for the TREK book line. Within this series, we see the early days of Picard's first command, the USS Stargazer (as seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Battle"). It takes place during a little-charted era in Star Trek lore, so there's breathing room for storytelling. However, we've seen a good number of the crew 30+ years later chronologically in the Next Generation novel "Reunion". So we know who lives and doesn't from the main Stargazer crew (for example, you know Picard lives on to command the Enterprise). So where's the suspense and drama?
It comes from two areas. First, if you're a die-hard Trek fan or really into the books, it comes from watching a young (28-year old) Picard dealing with his first command, as an Admiral works in the background to undermine and strip him of it. Secondly, it comes from the cast of secondary characters or senior crew memebers we don't see in "Reunion". Friedman has developed a nice cast to fill the Stargazer, each with their own idiosyncrasies. From Jiterica, who lives on the Stargazer within a containment suit because her native planet is a gas giant to mild-mannered Obal, the last guy you'd imagine would be in security as he look like a plucked chicken but could tear you up in two point three second. There's also the development of the main characters. The Asmund twins make an interesting pair, humans who were raised by Klingons, and the clandestine (and tragically tumultuous) relationship between one of the twins (Gerda) and Doctor Greyhorse. It's also interesting to see a younger, unsure Picard (with hair!) and the relationship he has with his first officer, who is a year younger than him and also his best friend. It provides a contrast to the relationship he'd have with Riker in later years.
So, how about the latest entry, "Enigma"? It's a well-told story. Friedman's style is very concise and straight-forward. The Stargazer books read like episodes you'd watch on television. This makes them very accessible and quick reads. But this may bother others who want more "meat" out of their books. I don't mind at all, however, Friedman gets on with telling a good tale, and doesn't let a lot superfluous details get in the way.
I won't spoil the plot; reading the back cover blurb tells you everything you need to. The main stars of the book are Ben Zoma (who finally gets some good "screen time") and Picard, each in their own plot threads that intertwine. The one slight criticism I would make of "Enigma" is that it continues some of the plot threads that have been building since "Gauntlet", and this may confuse some new readers. Friedman gets readers up to speed quickly, but regular readers will get more out of Ulelo's plight than someone coming into this book cold.
"Enigma" is decent, solid Trek, better for the character development than the actual story, which isn't very original. Some might feel "been there, done that" when reading this story. However, if you completely buy into wanting to read about Picard's adventures aboard the Stargazer, you won't mind, and shouldn't pass this book up. For people who dip in and out of the range, I'd still recommend this book. Friedman's chronicling of this era deserves attention.