Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars Book III: Hard Merchandise (K.W. Jeter)
The book opens with Zuckuss and 4-LOM teaming up to take down a gambler who takes wagers on battles in the GCW. Bossk is undaunted despite his bad fortune, setting up shop in Mos Eisley to pawn off a key item in this third book, the video with forged evidence of Prince Xizor's guilt in killing Luke Skywalker's family. In the past, Boba Fett encounters difficulties getting the rogue stormtrooper Voss'on't back to Kud'ar Mub'at. Xizor has set a trap for him and it takes all of his skill to survive. Once inside the web, the merchandise is handed over, Xizor agrees to spare Fett, and Mub'at is killed, with his web being blown apart. His old subnode Balancesheet takes over in a ship donated by Xizor. In the present, Boba Fett has returned to Kud'ar Mub'at's grave amongst the stars to rebuild the web and resurrect him so that he can be questioned. Fett is successful, but gathers no useful information before Balancesheet shows up and nearly kills Fett. Balancesheet reveals that the forged video of Xizor is very important in finding out who is trying to kill Boba Fett. Once it has been tracked down, Fett goes to Kuat just as he is blowing up the shipyards due to the constant pressure from Kuat's ruling families and the Rebel Alliance (whom has stationed a squadron around Kuat to keep the Empire away). Fett's meeting with Kuat aboard a Star Destroyer reveals all the plot points that Neelah's quest for her memory didn't, and Kuat dies in the explosion.
This book starts off very well, Zuckuss and 4-LOM hunting was excellent, you really got a sense of their true skill as hunters, and the conclusion to the past series of events was entertaining as well. The book really starts to drag from there, characters get information out of no where just to advance the convoluted plot, and the ending was really bad considering what you would expect out of a book featuring Boba Fett (More deaths in the conclusion than just one guy killing himself). I don't recall Boba Fett killing a single person in the present setting of the book, and I think this book is much worse off for it. In fact, nobody does much of anything besides talk in the present sections, while this may work for titles with more intrigue, this book cannot pull it off.
The characters in this book are roughly the same as before, Bossk and Dengar are still treated as utter buffoons, and Boba Fett is still "the best". Zuckuss is handled much better in this book, even if he is only in the first handful of pages, seemingly taking a role of actual, dangerous bounty hunter instead of easily duped thug. Kud'ar Mub'at gets a very unsatisfactory and expected conclusion to his story, and I would've liked the author to have taken a different route with him other than the one foreshadowed two entire books ago. Neelah was annoying also, besides being cliche and bossy, I really didn't like her story once it was fleshed out, this series could've done without her and would not be lacking much more than an excuse to have the flashback scenes.
The author improves a slight bit when it comes to writing, no long are random words like Kuat and barve written into every possible place, however he does have a tendency to repeat adjectives far too often. One example of this is the "Trandoshan-sized grooves" in the control panel of Bossk's ship. The endless thoughts and miscellany in between every piece of dialogue also plagues this novel (along with frequent recaps of the first two books). This is probably my chief concern with this book, there is way too much filler present and so much recap that you have to wonder why this wasn't a duology or standalone novel instead of a three part series.
Probably the best in the Bounty Hunter Wars series, you might as well read it if you've struggled through Mandalorian Armor and Slave Ship.