Sturm und Drang in a debut novel about a military hero’s identity crisis. Despite eight generations of warrior forebearers, Captain Sandy Caine keeps asking himself this central question: Was I meant to be a soldier? His doubt stems mostly from the mystery surrounding the demise of his father. Lieutenant Alex Caine died a coward in Viet Nam, Sandy has always been led to believe. But is it true? His grandfather, the revered Four Star General John Pershing Caine, has never left much room for doubt, and yet doubts persist, nagging at Sandy like a shirked responsibility. Then, while on duty in Somalia, in the aftermath of a firefight, he has a fateful encounter. Actually, two. As a result of the first—with a sergeant who served alongside his father—he receives a tantalizing revisionist report. Lieutenant Caine was steadfast and true, the sergeant maintains, but then is killed before he can say much more. The second encounter is with beautiful, imperturbable Abigail Mancini, a reporter for the Washington Chronicle, indefatigable in pursuit of a story. Until, that is, the advent of Sandy, who stops her presses and activates a trade-off of ambition for love. And since she’s a skilled investigative journalist, who better than Abby to help dig the dirt off long-buried secrets—especially since there has indeed been a cover-up, an astounding one, reaching into the loftiest corridors of power. With Abby at his side, plus several swashbuckling members of his Special Forces team, Sandy goes after the bad guys. Bullets mash, knives slash, blood gushes, and at the end triumphant Sandy, buoyed by self knowledge, has restored the family reputation, raising Caines to their accustomed place of honor. Decorated soldier, memorist, respected critic, Hackworth (Hazardous Duty, 1996, etc.) in his first fling at fiction gets some of it right. But 512 pages is too much military sprawl.