By-the-numbers suspense about the crash of a military jet and the cover-up that follows. The ill-fated jet carried only a single passenger, but he had star quality. The death of Joshua Thurston, beloved brother of the President of the US, was obviously going to result in a major flap. Among the first to be jarred is youthful Colonel John Quinn, disconcerted, to say the least, on learning that he’s in charge of the post-crash investigation. Why me? Quinn wonders. A brave and talented pilot until downed by an Iraqi missile, here’s Quinn marking time but not really unhappy in his undemanding Pentagon job. Honcho an investigation in the midst of a media frenzy? Bad news. Flying’s what he knew, not sleuthing. But, it occurs to him, that might be exactly the point. Suppose high-level people had something to hide? Wouldn’t a certain amount of ineptitude be useful? Soon enough, Quinn, aided by his clever friend Ted Chen (a former cop), discovers that high-level people do, in fact, have all manner of secret agendas. The President’s conniving chief of staff, for instance, has an acquisitive eye on the land’s highest office. The glamourous but enigmatic First Lady had her own reasons to be seriously disenchanted with Joshua Thurston. Still, could anyone be vile enough to commit murder by sabotage? That is, flummox an airplane, sending two perfectly innocent men (the pilot and his co) to their deaths to protect iniquitous ends? You betcha. But despite political pressure, media pressure, attempts on their lives—and assorted suspense-novel dirty tricks—dreadnought good guys pursue malevolent bad guys until hides are nailed to the wall. As was true of The General (1998), Davis’s failures in plotting stem from his failures in characterization. The lesson here is that exciting things don’t happen to lackluster people.