Chris Bunch,
The Double-Cross Program
(Roc, 2004)

Having enjoyed the first two Star Risk novels, I regret I was disappointed in The Double-Cross Program. There seemed to be a lot more attention to schemes and a lot less to characters, a lot of room given to product and hardware description, and not much to who and why it was being used. I did read it again, some weeks after my first reading, and was still of the same opinion -- although, in fairness, Chris Bunch has always been a bit like Tom Clancy in space! Maybe the plot, with its twists and turns and double-double-crosses, didn't appeal to me in the way his previous two stories did, but it should have.

The formula is still intrinsic to the book, and the characters are still active in their idiosyncrasies -- we perhaps learn a bit more about Grok, but I think the initial premise for the whole job just didn't sit as true with me as a reader. I can understand M'chel Riss being hell-bent on revenge, but would have anticipated a more solidly believable reason for such a hard-nosed fighter to take to the stands. Of course, profit is paramount for Star Risk, and the firm overall felt that profit would be forthcoming.

Go ahead and read it to keep up with what is happening in the series and make your own judgment. My lukewarm response won't prevent me seeking out and reading the fourth adventure, which I hope is imbued with a bit more personality and a tad less war on a major scale.

Sorry, I normally enjoy a bit of space opera, but this just did not distract me enough to take me into the future and fight alongside Star Risk operatives. I was a passive onlooker, and usually, I'm right there! Not his best, in my opinion.

by Jenny Ivor
17 March 2007

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