Former Air Force major Herman (most recently, Power Curve, 1997, about the first woman president of the US) produces realistic suspense tales that some call ""thinking man's"" thrillers that out-Clancy Clancy. Here, a military mission goes sour when an American B-2 bomber loaded with high-tech goodies fails in its attack on a Sudanese biological weapons plant and the crew is captured. Back in California at the ironically named Whiteman Air Force Base, an African-American (and Muslim) Air Force captain, Bradley Jefferson, is cast as scapegoat, charged with espionage, and readied for court-martial. Taking advantage of this trial is demagogue Jonathan Meredith, head of the superpatriotric First Brigade, who fancies himself an American Caesar and is running for President. His heroism during the Oklahoma City-style bombing of the new San Francisco Shopping Emporium (and his angry comments following the disaster) have given him great cachet, even though he's leading the country into a racial war. Government prosecutor Hank Sutherland looks likely to convict the Air Force captain, though Jefferson is defended by a famous defense lawyer. Echoes of the Dreyfus case abound, while legal issues stitch together much of the novel's high tensions. Herman has a distinctive beat to his wickedly adroit military thrillers whose firestorms are averted only at the last second.