The 45th Star Trek: TNG book.

Publication year: 1997
Format: print
Publisher: Pocket Books
Page count: 239 plus an expert of Wrath of the Prophets (ST: DS9 book)

Marignano is a long-range exploration ship and captain Ileen Maisel loves to explore outside Federation’s borders. She’s used to being on her own, a long way from backup in the fringes of the Orion arm.
Now, however, she’s noticed colony ships and other starships disappearing more frequently than usual and when she realized that her one ship can’t stop it, she called for backup. Starfleet has sent the Enterprise and another starship, Oraidhe, captained by Gohod Clif, a joined Trill. Picard is in command of the operation but of course he’s very courteous to the other captains.

The captains plan to investigate together at first and then separate, if necessary. They run into interesting new (at least to me) cultures while evidence mounts that something really dangerous is stalking whole starships.

The new cultures include the Third Submission colony ship which doesn’t want anything to do with the Federation ships. They consider life an anathema and are just waiting to die quietly. Another new culture is the Lalairu, who are wandering traders. When they die, they regenerate again. They must have a fascinating society, but we saw them only in passing.

Picard is the major POV character while Dr. Crusher and Data get to shine, too. Ileen Maisel seems younger in her personality than her years: she’s very enthusiastic about her job. Clif is a more thoughtful person but of course the Trill has lived a couple of more lifetimes than the others.

This is another Trek book more focused on exploration than conflict or battles. Duane also uses the holodeck a lot with Picard and the other captains talking in a seafaring vessel. I enjoyed the book a lot but it’s not terribly fast-paced.