"Captain's Peril" is seventh is the excellent Star Trek novel series by William Shatner and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, a series that began with "Ashes of Eden" and centers - at least in part - around the premise that Kirk did not meet his final end as portrayed in the movie "Star Trek: Generations," but rather he was resurrected, events surrounding this of which are detailed in the second novel in the series, "The Return." This novel, as are all the others with the exception of the bulk of "Ashes of Eden" takes place contemporaneously with the events of the Star Trek universe at large, with each successive novel in the series incorporating events portrayed in the various television series and movies (several throwaway lines in this novel hint at events depicted in the currently on-going series "Enterprise" with references to Archer and T'Pol).
Having said that though, it is not necessary for one to have read the preceding novels in this series, though they may shed some light on a few brief references to what has gone before. In previous novels of the series James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, and others have dealt with issues ranging from conspiracies within Starfleet to the Borg to villains from the alternate universe first depicted The Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror." This one starts off with (aside from a prologue set during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor) with Picard and Kirk taking a vacation to Bajor. The two friends sought to combine their mutual interests, the vacation starting out with some orbital skydiving, which would take the pair to a Bajoran archaeological dig along the shores of an inland sea in the desert, the researchers there investigating a sunken ancient city, one that was covered by waters released thanks to Cardassian efforts (depicted in the prologue).
The vacation does not go off as planned; first they almost die during the orbital skydiving thanks to faulty equipment, leaving them miles away from their landing zone next to the dig and without hope to be rescued before possibly dying of thirst or exposure. To pass the time Kirk describes to Picard events he faced very early as captain of the Enterprise, less than six months into its first five year mission. This story is told throughout the course of the novel and I found it quite engaging, showing how Kirk and Spock became friends, how Kirk grew into the role of captain, and what the Enterprise was like in the transitional period between Pike and Kirk having command of the ship. The story tied into a surprising degree with events in the story and was capped at the end of the book by a riveting and chilling epilogue, one which begs to be followed up by the authors in future works.
Kirk and Picard are rescued by one of the archaeologists, but they find that he wasn't out looking for them; he was out seeking a murderer! One of the foremost scientists at the camp had been murdered and no one there knows who did it or why. Much of the novel details Picard's and Kirk's efforts to solve this crime and bring the murderer to justice. The camp is completely cut off from the outside world, with no communications, miles from nowhere in the desert wilderness, Kirk and Picard lacking any weapons or access to sophisticated technology, many in the camp openly hostile to their presence, several with ample motive and opportunity to have committed the murder; the two captains have their work cut out for them.
I found the murder investigation a bit less riveting than Kirk's tale of his early days as captain. While by no means bad - it was interesting in that it had a lot to do with Bajoran history and particularly Bajoran religion - I found it at times confusing. Matters weren't helped much by the fact I had trouble sometimes keeping track of the various archaeologists and others at the camp. This is not to say that they were all alike, as some were quite distinct, but enough were similar and there names sort of ended up blending together for me. I still liked it, just didn't find it as effective as the second plot line, the one set in the past.
A good book, it didn't have quite the epic scope as earlier books in this series and I sort of liked that (though the plotline relayed through Kirk's tale has much broader implications in the future if the authors chose to explore it). All in all though a very good read, one I would recommend (though there were other books in the series that were better); certainly I would read it if you liked others in this series.