Science fiction writer Allen Steele normally produces near future science fiction, involving humanity taking it's first steps off earth, and believable science and technology. His three most recent books involved coyote, the first human colony outside the solar system, and the story of how civilisation there got going.
Although billed as a coyote novel and set in the same future history, this only slightly involves the planet, and is pretty much a stand alone piece of work. you don't need to have read those three books to read this.
The story involves humanity on earth picking up an alien signal, and sending out a spaceship to investigate. amongst the crew are a scientist on temporary release from a life sentence in prison, a pilot and a first officer who are carrying on a secret affair, and an ineffectual captain who got the job via his family.
The book is slightly oddly structed because it starts seventy years after the main events, with three survivors of the expedition returning to earth to tell their story. this means the prologue can be a little difficult to get into, but perserve because it becomes an easy and smooth read once the main story gets going.
There's nothing earth shattering here. although the characters do go on emotional journeys and develop as a result. The story is pretty much a standard first contact with aliens thing. It's nothing special but it's readable enough, and not a bad little piece of work. memorable and nicely understated final scene, though