L. A. Graf
reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
Take an encounter with Orions on a space station; add a Federation efficiency inspection of the Enterprise; toss in an Andorian scientist wanted by both the Andorians and the Orions he reneged on, and you have the basic ingredients of the L.A. Graf novel Death Count.
The story begins with Sulus desire to add some exotic Halkan water chameleons to his collection while he, Chekov, and Uhura are spending part of their shore-leave on station Sigma One. While in the shop that sells them, the trio finds Orion police officers manhandling the shops owner and destroying some merchandise. Chekov, who now holds the post of Enterprise security chief, rapidly dispatches them and finds out from the shop owner that they are looking for an "Orion deserter." The shop owner also tells them that an Andorian physicist, who skipped out of a space research project with top secret materials, has been the subject of a recent search by Andorian forces, too.
Meanwhile, Captain Kirk is facing his own troubles: It seems the Federation efficiency inspectors will be shipping out with the Enterprise, an event that causes everyone to cringe. So far in their attempts to improve the Enterprises efficiency, the team has been constantly underfoot and now they plan to reorganize several departments, including Security.
From this point, things go downhill rapidly: Three members of the efficiency inspection team are killed in a transporter accident, and a bomb goes off destroying a section of the Enterprise. When the Andorian scientist is found hiding on the starship, Sulu, Chekhov and Uhura are in charge of taking him back to Andorian space. However, the shuttle they are on is soon damaged by a bomb, and there are not enough space suits for all to escape. At the same time, and explosive hidden on the Enterprise threatens to kill all on board.
Although the novel is less than 300 pages in length, it packs enough intrigue for a much longer novel. In addition to several well-crafted and intertwined plots, the characterization is strong, and gives readers a close look at the friendship existing between Uhura, Sulu, and Chekhov. So, if strong characterization and a fast-paced plot are what you desire, try reading L.A. Grafs appropriately named novel Death Count.
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