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Book Review

Book Cover

JAG in Space
Burden of Proof


Author: Jack Campbell writing as John G. Henry
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 0 85768 941 2
Available 10 February 2012

Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Sinclair works both as part of the military personnel of the Starship USS Michaelson, but also acts as its legal officer. When a devastating explosion and fire engulf the engineering section, the investigation smells more like a cover up.

JAG in Space: Burden of Proof is the second book in the series by Jack Campbell.

This is the third of his series to hit the UK, following on from The Lost Fleet and Stark’s War series. Anyone who has read any other of his works will know what to expect in terms of style and tone. Campbell specialises in Military science fiction. His background, as a naval officer, brings a lot of authenticity to his writing and has proved very popular.

His use of military protocol and the nuances of speech are always spot on, although he has a tendency to highlight these aspects of his writing to the detriment of character development, as well as a failure to produce rounded, convincing support characters.

Now, depending on your personal tastes, this could be a good or bad thing. If you’re expecting a novel which starts with a crime and then spends the greater part of it time working out the who-done-it, then you’re likely to be disappointed. Campbell spends a large part of the first third of the book establishing his characters and the world they inhabit; it means a lot of military chatter and procedure.

The book opens with the USS Michaelson having to deal with the equivalent of space going Greenpeace activists, who are trying to disrupt a weapons test. From the tone of the piece neither Sinclair nor his creator has any truck with such hippy ideas, like stopping the militarisation of space. This is not unusual in writers of such fiction, Robert Heinlein might have been a fine writer, but his personal views were a bit suspect.

When an explosion kills Chief Asher, things spiral out of control, with even the chance that Sinclair might be blamed for the accident, although the initial report blames Asher. As Sinclair starts to investigate, his past and present clash as the man in charge of the investigation is the disapproving father of his latest partner. With his reputation at risk, Sinclair, goes after the man who he believes is responsible for his friend’s death, Lt Silver, but Silver has powerful allies.

The last part of the book plays out in a military court, in much the same way as would be expected, Sinclair is unlikely to lose a case as that would kill the fatted calf and end the series.

Fans of Campbell will find much to enjoy in this new series, there is also much for the casual reader. Although, I have a personal problem with the lack of depth with some of his characters, there is little doubt that Campbell is an accomplished writer.


Charles Packer

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