The story of the Vatta family continues in this fourth excursion into the far reaches of space. Readers of previous Vatta books will have no problem getting into this one, but newcomers may struggle with the vast cast of characters. Moon's best scenes are those with espionage and military action, but even in the midst of war there's room for humor. Just don't expect all the plotlines to resolve themselves; this is clearly a continuing saga.
Ky's friend Rafe, meanwhile, has snuck onto Nexus II to find out why his family is unreachable. When he determines they've been kidnapped, he hires an extrication team. Events are complicated by Rafe's past and the fact that his father is chairman of ISC. The kidnappers may be working with the pirates, and the lack of communication has made them bold. (DEL REY, Mar., 400 pp., $24.95)