Impersonations: A Story of the Praxis
by Walter Jon Williams
Full disclosure: I didn't realize this was part of a series, much less one of the later books. That said, I never felt lost. I felt like this told the whole story, and that you don't need to have read any of the other books to enjoy this.
Impersonations is a sci-fi story that takes place in the distant future, after an alien species known as The Praxis has completely dominated Earth and imposed its strict rules upon it. Subsequently, Earth joins a Praxis-empire full of aliens of all shapes and sizes.
The story focuses around the vacation of one Caroline Sula, a starship captain that had the audacity to win a battle without permission, and was then banished to the backwater post of Earth. This turns out for the best, because she's an Earth history buff, and this is her dream vacation. Unfortunately, at least one person shows up to ruin it by threatening to expose her big secret.
And then people die.
Don't be fooled by the trappings. This is a straight-up whodunnit set in a utopian sci-fi future. There are numerous suspects and plenty of political machinations to keep Sula (and you!) busy guessing who's out to get her.
If you enjoy shows like Stargate, Babylon 5, or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you would enjoy the atmosphere this book creates. Toss in a little murder mystery, and you've got yourself a winner.
If I had one critique, it's that I wish the sci-fi trappings had mattered... But the truth is that this story could have been placed in any time or place and still sufficed as an entertaining adventure. That said, I'm very interested in picking up the first book in the Praxis series to read some more about this universe that Sula inhabits.