Powerful people want to kill a news story—and then kill the reporter who’s tracking it. The first noteworthy item about the body roasting in the Mojave Desert was that it seemed to have fallen out of the sky. No vehicle in sight, no tire tracks or other sign of transport, no town nearer than 20 miles. Next, there’s the matter of how the body was identified—by a set of dog tags belonging to an American soldier lost in the Vietnam War. Reporter Johnny Rose finds his well worn nose for news beginning to twitch. But before he can start serious digging, stop signals emanate from some rather surprising sources—his editor, for instance. And then a Vietnamese friend of Johnny’s is murdered halfway into the story of what’s been scaring him. Johnny says only that he’s seen something that reason tells him is impossible. How could Captain Kyle Loveless be on the streets of L.A. yesterday when he was killed in Laos 30 years ago? Now Johnny’s twitching is uncontrollable. Before he can yell stop the presses, however, he himself has become a potential murder victim. It’s clear someone’s trying to frame him, but why? And is he really supposed to believe POWs have been wending their way home after all these years? If so, what’s the point of keeping that a secret? Does the answer connect to the owner of a certain newspaper (Johnny’s) and that owner’s vaunting ambition to be governor? In time-honored thriller fashion, Johnny realizes he must solve the riddles alone or face severe consequences. Shot at, beaten up, and considerably the worse for wear, he hangs in to the bittersweet end. Much livelier than Freadhoff’s debut (Codename: Cipher, 1991). Add a shade more nuance to the characters, a bit more dash to the writing, and it could have been a contender.