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Partisan politics hamper the official investigation of a Missouri aviation disaster. First-novelist Nance is a former commercial pilot whose nonfiction Splash of Colors (1984) and Blind Trust (1986) dealt with today's airline industry. In the middle of a midwestern thunderstorm, a North American Airlines Airbus tries to land at Kansas City International Airport and crashes into a smaller North American jet waiting to take off. The impact and subsequent fire kill more than a hundred passengers and some crew members, but the two pilots survive. Was the plane a victim of wind shear, sabotage, or pilot error? A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is assigned to investigate, but the team is hobbled by politics from the beginning. Team leader Joe Wallingford is the Investigator In Charge who has to get around the board chairman's loony and ill-informed directives--orders that seem to be influenced always by political rather than professional considerations. Susan Kelly is the exceptionally attractive and capable board member who is supposed to take the political heat, but the testy Wallingford won't let her do her job. Once Wallingford and Kelly work things out between themselves, they and their investigators uncover a corporate atmosphere at North American that is as dangerous as a string of tornadoes. A smoothly written fictional look at some real and rather frightening industry problems. Best read on the train.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Crown