When I closed the cover of Missing in Action, I said to myself- literally outloud- "Now that's good storytelling."
I've come to expect that with PAD's Star Trek New Frontier series, but MIA is the best one yet.
Slight SPOILERS to follow:
In MIA, Calhoun finds himself and the crew of his ship, The Excalibur, sucked into a distant universe where the laws of physics are not what we are accustomed to. Space is gelatinous rather than a vacuum and the creatures that inhabit it are just as bizarre. While there, he must end a centuries long feud between two warring races- a feud that has wiped out the entirity of the inhabitants of their universe, except for their own races of course.
Back home, Calhoun's wife, Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, must decide whether to defy Star Fleet and go after him or sit back and wait- as she was ordered too. Always a strict adherent to regulations, she's naturally torn, but in the end makes a decision based on her instincts, much like her cowboy husband always does. (Well, instincts and ALOT of whiskey!)
Before she can reach her husband, she finds herself in the middle of a war at it's breaking point on the Planet of Priatia, in the part of space where Calhoun and The Excalibur disappeared.
Old friends, Lt. Commander Robin Lefler and Captain Kat Mueller, join her- and by this time I was reading fast because the action was so intense.
The climax comes together with Calhoun expertly manipulating his way out of a morass of "peace" negotiations between the warring peoples- a peace negotiation that could have been "do this or die" if it had been any other man- and Shelby, Lefler, and Mueller discovering just how connected the planet of Priatia is to Calhoun's disappearance- and vice versa. A big surprise hits at this point and since I've probably spoilered too much as it is- I leave it for you to discover.
The book concludes with a few excellent little denouements- one with an ironic twist reminiscent of the old The Twilight Zone, and the other, a fable-like scene featuring Q, that lets us know where we measure up in the scheme of things.
MIA is a continuation and finale of a story arch advanced in the previous book, After the Fall. Where as it might be helpful to read the books before MIA, it really wouldn't be necessary to enjoy this story.
PAD writes with a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud like no other author can. I have yet to read his other books, outside of the Star Trek universe, but I will eventually get to them, of that you can be sure of!