J.A.G. in Space

JAG in Space series by John Hemry

A few years back, I picked up the second book in this series, Burden of Proof; it didn’t take long before I went looking for the other books in the series.  At the time, they were out of print, but have since been reprinted under Hemry’s nom de plume, Jack Campbell, and are also available to purchase from Baen EBooks.

As the series name implies, this is a collection of legal thrillers that happen to be set in space. The books more or less follow a set formula: the first half details day to day life for ship’s legal office Paul Sinclair aboard the warship USS Michaelson, during which something happens which will have legal consequences. The second half follows the legal case; Paul isn’t a lawyer, but as legal officer (and someone with an inability to leave well enough alone) he inevitably ends up intimately involved.

In the first book, A Just Determination, Paul has just graduated from the naval academy; having had a month free before he could meet up with his new ship, he was assigned to take a legal course, which is how he ends up as ship’s legal officer once he comes aboard. The Michaelson is assigned to protect the US claim to a particular area of space; in doing so, they mistakenly destroy a civilian ship. Although Paul doesn’t particularly like Captain Wakeman, he feels that the charges are overly severe and, even though he’s scheduled to testify for the prosecution, ends up as a witness for the defense…

In book two, Burden of Proof, Paul has been promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade, and he also has a serious girlfriend. A mysterious accident destroys a significant amount of the ship, however, and his girlfriend’s father – who happens to hate Paul – is brought in to investigate. No fault is found, but Paul eventually uncovers evidence of a cover-up…

Book three, Rule of Evidence, contains the funniest scene I’ve ever read; I was getting strange looks from my wife because I couldn’t stop laughing. Things quickly turn serious, however, when a US warship is nearly destroyed by a series of mysterious explosions, and Paul’s girlfriend is implicated.  Paul struggles to find an alternative explanation before the woman he loves is convicted of murder…

The fourth book, Against All Enemies, covers the end of Paul’s service aboard the Michaelson. The stakes are high: treason! Someone is passing classified information regarding military orders to the enemy, and Paul is reluctantly drafted to help find the culprit. A court martial occurs, but even Paul isn’t sure if they’ve found the right suspect… This is probably the weakest book of the series, but it’s still worth reading (as are the short stories about the same characters, if you can find them).

The author of the series is a retired naval officer, and apparently it shows; while I don’t have military experience myself, I gave the books to my dad (a retired air force major who doesn’t normally read science fiction); he told me he loved how realistic the books are in their portrayal of military matters. Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, this series is worth a look for what it is: a collection of exciting legal dramas.

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This entry was posted by William on Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at 11:31 am and is filed under Science Fiction . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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