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 A plucky young woman from the IRS takes on a sinister military/industrial cabal, in yet another implausible offering from Frey, who this time comes close to recycling his villains in last year's The Vulture Fund. Jesse Hayes, a field agent in the Internal Revenue Service's Baltimore office, receives a potentially dangerous legacy when her immediate superior dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances. The bequest is a file he had been compiling on Elbridge Coleman, a wealthy entrepreneur who's challenging Malcolm Walker for his Senate seat. While Jesse (who's close to earning an MBA) carries on with her former mentor's investigation, she keeps a weather eye on private-sector opportunities and catches the attention of Elizabeth Gilman, managing director of Sagamore Investment. In the course of subsequent job interviews with Gilman's associates, Jesse begins to suspect that there may be a connection between the secretive money- management firm and the Coleman papers. She's right on. Sagamore is at the heart of a wide-ranging intrigue involving Senator Carter Webb (power-mad chairman of the Appropriations Committee), Theodore Cowen (Chief of Naval Operations), Jack Finnerty (CEO of General Engineering & Aerospace), Gilman, and a host of lesser lights. This in-group is close to realizing a megabuck payoff on its scheme to secure a firm contract to build the A-100, a carrier-based fighter developed secretly with funds from the Pentagon's so-called black budget; news of the hitherto unpublicized program also promises to do wonders for the market value of General Engineering (which is effectively controlled by Sagamore). Before the plotters can cash in, however, they must drive Walker, an outspoken foe of defense spending, from office and keep Hayes from learning too much. Despite their deadliest efforts, Jesse proves too resilient, savvy, and tough for the co-conspirators to handle. Lively, but there's precious little but trite plights and clichÇd characters behind this creaking door. (First printing of 125,000)

Pub Date: July 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94206-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


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