Another hit of fast, formulaic Washington skullduggery from second-novelist Shelby (Days of Drums, 1996). A blue-ribbon commission headed by Supreme Court nominee Judge Simon Esterhaus has ruled the fatal crash of Gen. Griffin North's jet accidental, ending the government's investigation into the death of the popular African-American who'd been on track to be the next vice-president. But a dying supply sergeant turned grass-roots terrorist brags to Major Mollie Smith, of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, that North was murdered. Since Mollie was North's long-term lover, she's just the avenger to take the two informants who can nail North's killers under her wing and stash them safely until they can tell their story. Little does Mollie know that she's already in the sights of the Engineer, the jack-of-all-arms who, North's assassination behind him, is methodically chopping off the loose ends. Once she's been dispatched, the role of avenger passes from Mollie to her brother Logan Smith of the FBI and her protâ€šgâ€še, warrant officer Rachel Collins. Smith and Rachel feverishly scan every scrap of paper Mollie saved, and every byte she programmed into her computer, to unearth the informants, whose uneasiness that Mollie hasn't been in touch turns to terror when they find out why. But Smith doesn't realize that he's being set up as a cat's-paw by none other than the Engineer's co-conspirator, Judge Simon Esterhaus, who's just as interested in the informants as Smith is. Looks like it's up to Rachel, who's gone AWOL from her unit, to bring in the informants, protect them from the Engineer and his nefarious cronies, and reveal the assassination plot in all its dark complexity. This time, though, there's precious little complexity--just lots of government employees on the run from each other, and the echo of the Engineer's generic footsteps as the trail turns bloody. Think of a James Bond yarn without Bond.