Going into Scoundrels one knows 2 things: it’s bound to be a good read, because its by Timothy Zahn. That said, how much it is enjoyed depends on what one is in the mood for. If one is expecting Jedi, space battles, or Rebel vs Empire action, one may be disappointed. If however one is in the mood for Han Solo and his ne’er do well smuggler buddies joining forces for high stakes against dangerous foes, one is in for a treat.
There are nods to Oceans 11, Indiana Jones and the whole ‘who shot first’ in the cantina scene. Lando returns, Chewbacca is alive and well right by Han’s side, and a few familiar faces from old stories join new ones both to aid and stop Han Solo in his attempt to get money (or credits) to pay off an outraged Jabba the Hutt. The familiar faces plus the opposition are familiar from the rest of the Expanded Universe, including the Black Sun Crime Syndicate. The Imperials are sniffing around too. There is even a brief mention of how Han lost the money he’d been given to the Alliance, before he could repay Jabba the Hutt.
While in places the plot seems to be heavy on someone overthinking things, the fact that the stakes are life and death for failure on both sides means they have reason for being paranoid. Even members of Black Sun don’t want to tick off Black Sun and it’s Prince Xixor. Meanwhile Han is no slouch when it comes to figuring out when not all is as it seems.
It does seem a bit odd to place it where it is in the timeline. Set after Ann Crispan’s Han Solo Trilogy, when Lando is already ticked off at Han and blaming him for being ripped off. That already explained why Lando might not be thrilled to see him at Cloud City.
Stories like this are where Han shows how smart he is and how able to convince a diverse group of people to function as a team for a common goal. The movies may show his skill with a blaster and piloting, but this is the kind of story that tells you he has what it takes to one day be the General the rebels will need in Return of the Jedi.