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Another arresting take on the US Navy from Deutermann (The Edge of Honor, 1994, etc.) -- this time in a military police procedural that features miscegenation, high-level infighting, and a genuinely horrifying hatchet man. Stuck with Pentagon duty as he awaits a return to sea, Commander Dan Collins is ordered to look into the killing of a young black officer whose body has been discovered, after two years, in a mothballed battleship in the USN's Philadelphia shipyard. Collins's assignment infuriates the civilians running the Naval Investigative Service, whose bungled probes of the Tailhook scandal and the gun-turret explosion aboard the Iowa cost it the confidence of upper-echelon admirals. With help from Grace Snow, a comely NIS operative detailed to assist Collins in his inquiries, the straight-arrow officer soon ties the Philadelphia murder to a contemporaneous fatal traffic accident in Washington, D.C. Once he discovers that the brother-and-sister victims were both Navy officers, Collins suspects a coverup: and he's on the right track, since the double homicide was the handiwork of Malachi Ward, an ex-MP who does dirty jobs as a security consultant for a varied clientele in the nation's capital. Although Collins and Snow are pulled off the case by senior aides afraid they'll uncover an illicit affair one of their bosses had with the dead lieutenant's equally dead sister, Ward learns that the two haven't stopped asking questions. Aware that they could nail him on their way to his paymaster, the crafty, remorseless killer makes several attempts on their lives. Collins and Snow (who have found each other amid the story's career-threatening turmoil) take Ward's best shots and survive a finale on the Potomac's banks to unmask the four-star villains of the piece. First-class entertainment with full-tilt action and three-dimensional characters credibly concerned about abuse of power, exposure, retribution, and other of a workaday world's manifold cares.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1995
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: St. Martin's