Doyle Trimboli, special investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, is called in when a private Novajet crashes in a Wisconsin forest. Why a special investigation? Because, along with four dead bodies, a surprise-cargo is found amid the wreckage: top-secret military microchips--part of a Defense project in advanced surveillance radar via satellite! Was the jet sabotaged during its San Francisco/N.Y. flight? Were the microchips being shipped east as part of a secret sale to Soviet agents in Europe? How did the chips get stolen in the first place? Those are just a few of the questions facing narrator-sleuth Trimboli--who alternates between globetrotting inquiries and super-technical, post-crash aeronautics tests (e.g., ""simulating the fuel system management on the flight from take-off to the moment the engines cut"") in the laboratory. In California, Trimboli prowls around the fishy company that owned the Novajet (its president has vanished); he follows one clue to Tokyo, another one to a likely KGB agent in Germany; he gets beaten up and nearly becomes a sabotage-victim in his own helicopter. And, after finally pinpointing the evil mastermind (the one fairly neat twist here), Trimboli winds up as the hostage in a shootout/showdown finale. Routine, faceless detection-cum-espionage--with a few small added attractions for aviation buffs.