Mutineer opens up with Kris heading with a company of Marines to rescue a young girl that has been kidnapped by terrorists. This turns out to have been a trap to lure Kris in for assassination. Being the daughter of a rich public figure means that she's a valuable target despite being enrolled in the military. Disgusted with this, especially since her little brother was murdered by terrorists when she was a child, Kris heads out to an isolated colony that is suffering a humanitarian crisis. From there, she deals with yet another conspiracy that threatens to bring down the Longknife dynasty and the Wardhaven government.
I really enjoyed this book as it's a look at military science fiction from a perspective that isn't often handled: that of a soldier in a functioning democracy. The government of Wardhaven is dominated by neptoism and a single family but it's still a democracy that is part of a larger alliance (at least for this book). There's none of the usual "civilian governments can't do what military leadership can" that is an ugly side of the genre and the fact Kris spends most of the book distributing food to locals is a wonderful change of pace.
I'm a huge space opera fan and this book reminds me a great deal of Jack Campbell's LOST FLEET series, though the space combat element is far lower in this version. Instead, Kris does her best to handle things with rifle in hand and ordering around men. There's plenty of unrealistic elements like the fact she's basically Prince Harry running from one combat scenario to the next and ordering people around despite being fresh out of training. This is partially justified by her background but a bit on the wish fulfillment side. And so what? Realism isn't my chief concern with stories. Entertainment value is.
Kris is a very entertaining character and immensely likable. Raised in the lap of luxury but traumatized by her brother's death, she's trying to avoid becoming a spoiled debutante as well as stay out of politics. Ironically, she ends up finding out she has a talent for leadership as well as administration that turns out to be a far more useful skill than how good she shoots things. Kris is also assisted by an expensive A.I. named Nelly who allows her to brute force her way past most technological problems. In a way, Kris is a gender-flipped version of Halo's Master Chief with, again, a focus more on running things behind the scenes than action scenes--though there are plenty of those as well.
The best part of the book is the fact that a good chunk of it is about the problems of logistics on a world where there was a volcanic eruption. The breakdown in law and order is only about as problematic as the fact there's no way to easily distribute food as well as medical supplies. This is a lot more likely scenario for a military to engage in during "peacetime" and watching Kris tackle this is actually more engaging then when she goes after a bunch of bandits with her subordinates.
This is a feel good sort of Pulpy fiction where the heroine is good, awesomer than everyone else, and faced against some truly dastardly people. Nevertheless, you can tell Mike Shepherd is bringing a lot of his real-life military experience to the book and it feels at least somewhat authentic despite the constant victories by our plucky heroine. If that sort of thing doesn't turn you off then this is an awesome book and I'm more than halfway through the series. I just read one after the other. I should note that I listened to the audiobook version by Diana Pearlman and recommend it strongly. She does a great job of bringing out Kris' character and emotions throughout the story.