When dishy FBI field agent Jack Sampler leaves Em Hansen’s bed after just one night of passion and won’t tell her why or where he’s going, forensic geologist Em, no stranger to problematic relationships (Fault Line, 2002, etc.), rushes over to ex-Bureau agent Tom Latimer, who introduced them, and asks what’s going on. Tom, now retired and looking after his pregnant wife Faye, Em’s best friend, hedges. But Faye confides that she heard Jack was off to Florida, and that before he took off he mentioned something about dust. The two women are soon dragging reluctant Tom off to St. Pete, Cape Canaveral, and ultimately a private island in the Bahamas, where the doings of (1) Cal Wheat, an anthrax researcher missing off a cruise ship, (2 and 3) Dr. Miles Guffey and his assistant Waltrine, who are studying bioterrorism in the form of African pathogens now decimating Caribbean coral reefs, and (4) an unidentified nut who’s buried a surface-to-air missile aimed at a space shuttle launch will all overlap with the trail of the mysterious Jack. Drugs will come into play, along with a daughter sequestered for safety on the Big Cypress Indian reservation, skimpy funding for US Geological Survey projects, and several high-speed boat chases, before Jack reappears to be reunited with Em over the dead body of their good friend.
Even readers who wonder why a smart gal like Em is so enthralled with a man who calls her “love-bunny” will stick around for the bioterrorism tutorial.