If you like Star Wars, you will really like The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn! Jordan McKell, renegade star-freighter pilot is kind of like Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Wedge Antilles, and a little James T. Kirk, all rolled into one. And he has a partner that has 2 ferrets telepathically linked that travel around on his shoulders. Can't even begin to describe the ship they are flying these days - but it's in almost as bad shape as the Falcon.
Hanging around in a saloon/taverno on Meima, somewhere out in the "Spiral" Jordan is approached by a total stranger with an odd proposition. Seems he has this freighter he needs flown back to Earth, loaded with a mysterious cargo, and no questions asked. Being a little tight on working capital, and able to fit this one in between employment opportunities, McKell takes on the job and the front money. And the whole thing goes right into the tank from there.
His current employer is really the head honcho of archaeological dig, missing and wanted by the authorities back on Meima. His crew is an unusual mix of characters hired off the street for their specialities, but they resent McKell from the very beginning. The two guys he usually works for (and is great financial debt to), Brother John and Uncle Arthur, are involved in the criminal underground and may have more than a passing interest in Jordan's situation.
He is followed and beaten up by aliens and humans alike, dodging bounty hunters and thugs, threatened by his crew, sabotaged by who know's who. John and Arthur are acting very strangely - not much help and little support. Lucky for him, Ixil, Pix and Pax (thats the ferrets) joins up with him shortly after the trip starts because there is a murder to deal with as well. Top that off with the knowledge that the guy who hired him is not only probably involved in something illegal, but is also probably dead.
Planet hopping toward Earth, Jordan and Ixil and the ferrets must investigate the murder, figure out who is messing with the ship ("Icarus" - thats where the name of the book comes in), what the heck the crew is up to, and why the Patthaaunutth are after him. We learn why the Patth (easier to say and spell) control all galactic shipping and freighting, something about the Talaric Star Drive they invented. And that there may be a connection between an archeological dig, that Drive thing and the "Icarus". There are alot of twists and turns in the story, and intertwined plot lines that keep the reader interested - you just can't put the darn book down.
If you are ready for a fast moving, action packed science fiction adventure, this is definitely the book to read. Thimoth Zahn is at this best taking up places we've never been, expertly developing the characters and never letting the reader get bored. This is really a space cowboy murder mystery, but who cares - it's a great read!
Title: The Icarus Hunt