Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Elizabeth Bonesteel has created a fascinating universe in her Central Corps series. Remnants of Trust, the second book in the series, builds on the promising beginning from the first book and takes her storytelling to the next level.

The story begins with an out of character attack on a Central Corps ship by raiders. The Galileo, home to Captain Greg Foster and Commander Elena Shaw, is near enough to respond to the Exeter’s distress call, but not near enough to prevent its destruction. The intervention of the closer PSI ship, Orunmula, is able to avert that disaster, but not the loss of nearly 100 crew members from the Exeter. Signs point to sabotage, but by whom and for what reasons is a deeper mystery. Hidden agendas and factions within the Central Corps government further complicate the mystery and put everyone in danger.

Elena and Greg, as well as Jessica are among the characters who return from the first novel and their characters are further developed here. Strong new characters such as Captain Celik of the doomed Exeter are introduced. None are more fascinating than the very pregnant captain of the Orunmula, Shiang Guanyin. I could read a whole book just about her. We get to spend a lot of time with her and her PSI generation ship which is a fascinating contrast in cultures from the Central Corps ships. We get to take the time to understand how these different cultures frame the perspectives of the individuals who live in them.

Bonesteel perfectly captures people's imperfect understanding of each other. She uses this to show how it influences decision-making and outcomes. The relationships between and among her characters are realistic and nuanced. There are a lot of things to like about Bonesteel’s books. The plot moves along steadily, there are great action scenes, a complicated mystery and a government with agendas within agendas manipulating people and events for reasons that remain murky. The greatest accomplishment, though, is a full cast of characters who are complex, have depth, and have realistic motivations. Bonesteel skillfully lends perspective to show that individual motivations are more complex than simple good or evil.

Remants of Trust is a great entry in the series. It is an exciting story with a solid mystery. Even as the mystery is solved, it leads to more questions to be explored in future entries in the series. The characters and their development is a cut above ordinary military sci-fi and reason enough to read these books by themselves.

Sign me up for more adventures in the Central Corps universe as well as anything else Bonesteel wants to write. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

Description: In this follow-up to the acclaimed military science fiction thriller The Cold Between, a young soldier finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a deadly conspiracy in deep space.
Six weeks ago, Commander Elena Shaw and Captain Greg Foster were court-martialed for their role in an event Central Gov denies ever happened. Yet instead of a dishonorable discharge or time in a military prison, Shaw and Foster and are now back together on Galileo. As punishment, they’ve been assigned to patrol the nearly empty space of the Third Sector.
But their mundane mission quickly turns treacherous when the Galileo picks up a distress call: Exeter, a sister ship, is under attack from raiders. A PSI generation ship—the same one that recently broke off negotiations with Foster—is also in the sector and joins in the desperate battle that leaves ninety-seven of Exeter’s crew dead.
An investigation of the disaster points to sabotage. And Exeter is only the beginning. When the PSI ship and Galileo suffer their own "accidents," it becomes clear that someone is willing to set off a war in the Third Sector to keep their secrets, and the clues point to the highest echelons of power . . . and deep into Shaw’s past.

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