At the narrow end of the wedge, a solitary aircraft explosion over the Solomon Islands; at the other end, the balance of power in the Mideast arms race. Jennifer Decker has made such a fuss over her pilot husband's disappearance that Airtech, the company that made Warren Decker's missing plane, sends Steven Redman from Brisbane to the Solomons to review the scant evidence--mostly a few samples of funny-looking dust. It doesn't sound like much--but dust was behind Decker's fatal crash, as Redman realizes when a colleague back home explains to him how explosive dust particles can be used to ignite a big bang with none of the fuss or fallout of nuclear weapons. His suspicions confirmed when a reception committee armed with machine guns meets his enterprisingly informal reconnaissance trip to Malaita, Redman runs with his tail between his legs back to Australia, where his buttons will be pushed first by hungry reporter Debbie Hinton; then--during another cycle of action in the Pacific--much less pleasurably by terrorist Nassim Khatib, of the Coalition of Arab States (COAS), and those swarthy, heavily armed sidekicks redux; and finally by the American and British bully-boys who know all about Khatib's grandiose schemes and want to use Redman as a cat's-paw to spike Khatib's guns. From here on in, it's business as usual for veteran Peel (Covenant of the Poppies, 1993, etc.), who keeps the pot boiling by having American, Israeli, and COAS intelligence reports leapfrogging over each other every chapter or two, with the only certainty that somebody--probably not Redman--sure will be surprised when the curtain rings down. Undemandingly stripped-down intrigue with explosions obbligato, though the whole affair seems to be extruded through a time warp.