Columnist Drew Pearson and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal see eye-to-eye on virtually nothing, though Nathan Heller (Flying Blind, 1998, etc.) gets hired by both. The year is 1949, and here’s Nate detached from his thriving A-1 Detective Agency and his beloved Chicago, feeling slightly out of place in those Washington, D.C., corridors of power. But only briefly. Because it’s axiomatic that Nate the Great is the nonpareil of practicing peepers, in such demand that even Harry Truman wants to put him to work. The neediest come first, however, a condition that makes the case for Secretary Forrestal, who is either suffering galloping paranoia or the Reds, the Feds, Drew Pearson, and/or assorted extraterrestrials really do want to kill him. Understandably skeptical at first, Nate becomes less so when his own surveillance indicates the existence of at least one other source of same. Ruthless, repellent Pearson (in Collins’s characterization) is a Forrestal-watcher because—having hounded the man unmercifully—he now senses imminent collapse and wants to be first with the nervous breakdown story. Nate confronts Pearson, who promises to be kinder to Forrestal if Nate will do something for him. From Roswell, New Mexico, rumors of a UFO cover-up have been emanating—complete with a downed flying saucer and defunct little green men. Pearson wants Nate to investigate. So off he goes. If by denouement the UFO story and the Forrestal story connect at all, the operative word is tenuously. In the past, Collins has blended history and mystery craftily enough to compensate for slapdash plotting and a dreadful prose style. But not here.