For some reason, I don't like this book (or it's companion, Heavy Time) as much as the other Union/Alliance novels.
The two books are set much earlier than all the other novels, at a time when the Earth Companies are expanding their influence and the military is building up it's Fleet. Only Sol Station has been built and expansion into FTL travel is still a dream.
In this novel, Dekker and his friends are manoeuvered into discovering why the newly designed military ships nicknamed Hellburners are killing their pilots with such regularity. As with all Cherryh novels, things are not always what they seem and Dekker soon has a big problem on his hands, trying to keep the latest Hellburner from killing him.