An intelligence officer, out of work thanks to the New World Order, goes free-lance to find out why an old associate took the trouble to crawl into his bathroom before expiring of multiple bullet wounds. Hunter's thrillers include The Potsdam Bluff and Tailspin. There's a bit of '40s ``Why you....I oughtta'' flavor, plus a spunky aviatrix--but everything else is quite up-to-date in this brisk, cynical thriller about a plot to tidy up the world drug- market and possibly advance the cause of a German neo-fascist politician. Even a past working relationship with the current President in post-Bush America is not enough to protect Tom Sweeney from peacetime budget cuts. Laid off from his high-level job at a between-the-cracks intelligence agency, the handsome bachelor cheerfully plans a few months of goofing off--but then a call from the police informs him that a corpse has been found in his bathroom and that the dead man has left a message in blood. The policeman turns out to be a fake, but the message is a real warning of danger for both Tom and the President. Within hours, there are attempts on Sweeney's life, and it becomes necessary for him to flee his pleasant Chesapeake Bay hideaway and form an ad hoc alliance with his beautiful ex-assistant, now an aerobat, and with an unusually resourceful automobile mechanic. Sweeney's predicament has something to do with an immensely complex scheme to monopolize the cocaine industry using pilotless planes and boats and vast amounts of cash. His enemies include an especially loathsome TV personality, a pack of vicious Germans, the President's ambitious and sexy chief of staff, the very nasty Vice President, and perhaps even Sweeney's old boss. The bad guys have not calculated on the persistence of an unusually intelligent general heading the drug- enforcement effort, Sweeney's remarkable survival skills, or the maneuverability of the lady's ancient flying machine. Rattles along pleasantly enough.