Combining elements of the financial and the aviation thriller, Nance (Scorpion Strike, 1992) puts together a would-be page-turner marred by cardboard-thin, uninvolving characters and a not entirely credible conspiracy. Elizabeth Sterling, a brilliant and beautiful investment banker, takes on the task of salvaging an economically troubled start-up airline, only to find herself confronting a mystifying campaign of sabotage. The company's finances are in complete disarray, its computer systems are compromised, and two attempts at downing flights would have been mass tragedies if not for the heroic efforts of the crafts' pilots. Jetting from Seattle to New York to London and Hong Kong, Sterling struggles to simultaneously restructure the airline's finances and restore Wall Street's confidence in the firm. Stymied at every turn, she untangles a dangerous web of escalating intrigue that threatens to drive the airline out of business before it can succeed. Enlisting the aid of her lover, Brian Murphy (the airline's chief pilot), and retired Scottish businessman Creighton MacRae, she discovers a plot by an international financial group to control the US commercial aviation market. MacRae uses his resources to help Sterling find alternative financing while he worms his way to the root of the problem. Murphy struggles to find the saboteur responsible for the two near-crashes and to uncover the mole inside the company he believes is providing access and information to the airline's enemies. Together, they pull off a 12th-hour rescue and save the firm. Phoenix Rising takes much too long to lift off -- the conspiracy is too slowly unveiled, the villains make their appearance very late in the story -- but once it gets airborne, it develops some momentum.