Second in the Broken Wings series (Broken Wings, 1999, with Mark Olshaker) and first solo fiction by Douglas, famed as Thomas Harris’s legendary FBI Mindhunter.
Douglas has the drill for thrillers down pat: lots of bad guys, piles of bodies, big grids of electric danger, though he cannot fashion a stylish all-nighter like Harris’s Hannibal Clarice. The five members of the privately funded but legally empowered Broken Wings team, former active FBI agents who went out of bounds and got themselves buried by the Bureau, do all sorts of quasi-illegal acts that normally would call for a warrant—but they’re effective. A Blackhawk helicopter explodes over Washington, crashes into the Mall, and kills all aboard. The First Lady, at first thought to be a passenger, is safe. Terrorist act? All think so. The Broken Wings, called in to the case, find themselves then suddenly dismissed from it by the Attorney General, no friend of profiler Hollywood John Donovan, the team’s boss and famed (like Douglas) for his nonfiction books on serial killers and his tech help with moviemakers who want to get things right. Taken off the case, the team agrees to assist their financial benefactor, Mrs. Millicent De Vries, whose niece and husband are missing. Also missing: nuclear scientist William Rush, who was working on a hush-hush weapon. Donovan finds the niece, Janice Calahan, sprawled naked and dead atop the similar body of William Rush. Did her missing husband find them in the act and shoot them both? But Donovan suspects his arch-nemesis, the phantom J.P. Napoleon, who seems to own everything and wants to own more (if he even exists). Well, like that Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarty, J.P. Napoleon is too rich a villain for Douglas to deliver up in a mere two novels. Meanwhile, Donovan’s ex-wife Toni and his cooling paramour and teammate Katie both turn the screws on him.
Page-turner full of sardonic asides.