Zahn's latest is a highly readable thriller in space-opera trappings, set a few hundred years from now. The myriad worlds hosting intelligent life are tied together by the Quadrail, an interstellar transport system run by the enigmatic Spiders. Transport of weapons or military equipment isn't allowed, but someone, somewhere, appears to have found a way around the prohibition. The Spiders hire cashiered government investigator Frank Compton (he uncovered a few too many skeletons) to discover how and what threat it constitutes. By the third chapter, beings of a number of species are gunning for Compton from all directions.