Another awkwardly written, ill-thought-out case for Hawaii's Takamura and Koenig (Vector), this one involving a satellite crash-landing (one of theirs? ours?), the sudden appearance of Japanese businessmen, the hush-hush ""Sandstone"" project on the mainland, the possibility of plague, and a population in panic. Was the satellite carrying a toxic scientific payload? A reporter venturing near it has to be hospitalized, as do several others who came in contact with the reporter's close-by car. Soon every plane, boat, etc. off the island is booked; the computers that Koenig plugs into spew out the news that most of the information he seeks is classified; and Takamura again must resort to Charlie Chart aphorisms when in the throes of detective befuddlement. Eventually, the two piece together a link between politics and pharmaceuticals, the desert and the Orient, and emerge with a setup rather than a splashdown. Despite the author's expertise on a number of subjects, this is a rudimentary thriller, with twist upon improbable twist much belabored. And the two sleuths are thoroughly annoying.