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Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Publisher: Pocket

Another in Ruggero's estimable series (Firefall, 1994, etc.), this time with hero Major Mark Isen, a veteran of combat in three foreign campaigns, finding himself in dubious battle at a Stateside post. When Major General Patrick Flynn asks him to conduct an informal inquiry into the apparent suicide of Michael Hauck (the General's nephew and a second lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne), Isen is more than happy to quit the Pentagon for temporary duty at Fort Bragg. Once on the base, however, the amateur sleuth is less happy with his assignment. While divorced Isen gladly renews old acquaintances with Major Sue Lynn Darlington, a comely helicopter pilot, and links up with a rookie CID agent named Terry McCall, he fails to gather much worthwhile information. Indeed, the paratroopers appear to have closed ranks against Isen, perhaps at the instigation of Hauck's battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harlan Veir, hailed as the US military's new breed of warrior in a Newsweek cover story. Convinced that the official reports omit some ugly details on the death by gunshot of Hauck, whose body was found in the parking lot behind a topless joint known as Jiggles, Isen keeps digging with the reluctant assistance of McCall, a crusty young black woman who, despite concurring in his suspicions, cuts him precious little slack. Although he unearths suggestive dirt on Veir's smash-mouth way with the ladies, brutal leadership methods, and mania for getting even with anyone who crosses him, Isen faces further obstacles. Stumbling through a nightmare underworld, the sporadically inept but true-blue Isen nonetheless collects enough circumstantial evidence to force an 11th-hour showdown that allows him to save the honor of the Army he so dearly loves. An absorbingly different sort of soldier's story, one that turns on character as well as action and hints that lonesome Major Isen may have found a worthy new mate.