Peter David has done it once again. We waited two years for the conclusion of the Beings saga, and we were all very relieved not to have to wait so long to see the resolution of Gleau's murder. I'll get the prose praise out of the way; David writes with a flourish, an edge-of-your seat pace that is somewhat rare in this selective genre. His character development is second-to-none, and it is easy to believe that he cares for each one of them. There are a few tongue-in-cheek references peppered throughout the book; I had to laugh when Picard comments that he would never be able to run a school for gifted youngsters.
The focus here is on Calhoun, Shelby, Janos, and Kebron; at least, in the present. It is fascinating to see the new (and, in my opinion, improved) Kebron handle the investigation; he draws upon hard-boiled detectives of "old" and adamantly refused to believe that Janos was responsible for the murder of the manipulative, unlamented Gleau. His search takes him in new directions, and it is here where Calhoun ponders his past at Starfleet academy.
Calhoun recalls his savage days, his first meeting with Shelby, his roommate experience. We also see a rather laid-back Jellico (sort of) and finally have a lot of innuendo exposed. This reflection leads to a point when Calhoun finally comes to head with his savage side...and the ultimate reconciliation of savage and civilized soldier. We see a Calhoun who was so certain of himself, yet at the same time vulnerable. The progression of feelings he has for Shelby drives this point across quite well. As does his recollection of meeting Janos for the first time; one has certain expectations of meeting a white-furred creature after coming out of a fight for survival. The first encounter is both humorous and bittersweet; Calhoun and Shelby are still cadets, and they both realize that they have encoutered new life and it is their duty to ensure his survival.
Those hoping for a resolution or a glimpse of the Tholian/Danteri negotiations will be disappointed; the only time we glimpse Spock is when he melds with Janos. Si Cwan and Kalinda are likewise out of the picture, and for the last section of the novel, so is the "Trident." But that is understood and even appreciated; this is meant to be a focus on Calhoun and Janos. Yes, the murder happened on the "Trident," but when Calhoun absconds with Janos, it quickly becomes a Starfleet matter. The Selevians have petitioned the Federation to have Janos extradited in order to execute him.
This conflict leads to the action; "Enterprise" arrives on-scene to force Calhoun's hand, but he is convinced the Selevians are manipulating the Federation, and both ships face-off with a Selevian warship waiting in the wings, all vying for one thing: Ensign Janos.
Thankfully, "Stone and Anvil" does not end with a cliffhanger, but it will still leave you wanting more. Yes, there are unanswered questions, but not the big one.