Two Washington fixers try to uncover the facts behind a military and diplomatic disaster in Africa.
When the U.S. mission in Oosay, Morat, a North African Islamic hot spot, is overrun and destroyed and “renegade” Gen. Brian Roderick is killed, Peter Rena and Randi Brooks, partners in a research consultancy that offers a variety of services, are asked by the president to find out what really happened. The president’s questions about the incident have been only partially answered by his advisers and appointees, and the outsiders are seen as an alternate path to the truth. Rena, Brooks, and their researchers get right to work but find themselves stymied wherever they turn. The director of the CIA will not meet with them; representatives of the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the military muddy the water; some of the surviving personnel on duty in Oosay have disappeared, and the ones who can be located stonewall the investigators. In a gesture more political than practical, an opportunistic congressman manages to convene a committee of inquiry, adding immediacy to the partners' activity. Video footage taken by a drone is discovered and, after much intrigue, eventually viewed by Rena and Brooks, but the video raises as many questions as it answers. What dire truth animates such a coverup? Rena and Brooks persevere, confronting falsehoods and pulling what strings they can to get to the answer. But while the novel provides a realistic and informative portrait of the various ways political, military, diplomatic, and administrative interests compete and interact, it is not a very thrilling thriller. Rena and Brooks are dogged and clever, but most of the rest of the characters are types, and the dangers of secrecy and ambition never seem particularly menacing.
A valuable exploration of the vagaries of power and influence but not always a compelling tale.