Captain Kat Falcone, reluctant war hero, has rubbed too many in power the wrong way. Her truthful disparaging outburst plays into the hands of those who want to be rid of her. Not everyone's favourite, she is charged with a 'do or die' assignment well behind enemy lines. She is to gain information and wreak havoc on the Theocracy--at the same time ridding her foes of her troublesome self. Ordered by King Hadrian himself to the task, Kat is faced with a sympathetic king who understand the magnitude of the task, the slender chance of survival, the gains the task might give, the politics involved, and who does all he can to ease Kat's way, including having Captain Davison reassigned to her command. The king is obviously a player to watch--maybe in the next in the series. He understands the politics, the thin path he treads holding the Commonwealth together and that more is needed, not less. His and Kat's conversation is just as interesting for what's not said as for what is.
Given the rank of brevet commodore (without the pay or staff), Kat at the helm of the newly outfitted HMS Lightning, stretches herself and her mismatched command fleet across the reaches of deep space, playing a 'cat and mouse' game that takes her into the very jaws of the enemy, betrayal nipping at her heels. There's a Theocracy spy on board revealing her plans to forces led by her bête noir, Admiral Junay, placing all in jeopardy.
Kat is determined to succeed, Junay cannot afford to fail. His precarious political position is made clearer as he decides on a plan of action whilst contemplating a slightly ridiculous rhyme from his childhood, 'for the want of a nail.'
And beyond this there is still a mysterious force at work, a hidden adversary in high places in the Commonwealth, working to bring Kat and those loyal to the king down. Once again, no clues but too many coincidences.
Another ripper of a yarn that has us hurtling into danger with Kat. Once again I was taken to the edge of my seat reading the next of Nuttall's well crafted stories of this space opera.
A NetGalley ARC