Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fiction

Article excerpt

TITLE: The Passenger AUTHOR: Patrick A. Davis DATA: Putnam, 370 pages, $24.95

TITLE: Terminal Event AUTHOR: James Thayer DATA: Simon & Schuster, 347 pages, $25

Reviews by Bill Roach

Airplane crashes are the common denominator in two novels now on the bookshelves.

The Passenger by Patrick Davis is a suspenseful techno-thriller with more than a touch of politics -- White House-style -- to add to the plot.

Davis, whose first novel was The General, is a former Air Force major, and his expertise sharpens the focus of this story that opens with the mysterious crash of an Air Force Lear jet carrying the president's half-brother.

The "accident" obviously calls for close scrutiny.

Enter Col. John Quinn, Medal of Honor winner (from The General) who is tasked with investigating the crash and its cause.

Quinn brings in blunt-spoken Lt. Col. Ted Chen, an experienced investigator and former cop, to assist with the inquiry.

Added to his team by his boss, Gen. Maxwell Cramer (a sneering stereotype indeed), is a National Transportation Safety Board representative. The representative turns out to be Quinn's ambitious Ph.D. ex-wife, Jennifer Johnson, who promptly undercuts him with the media and leaves him with egg on his face by implying the crash was no great mystery, but, rather, pilot error.

Quinn learns that Jennifer has been assigned to the case by the White House. The president's arrogant chief of staff, Riley McKenzie, is also on the scene.

Davis quickly stirs the plot even more with a trio of other characters who really muddy the water. There is a beautiful African-American lobbyist named Kendra Banks, who reveals that the passenger, Joshua Thurston, was about to turn over to her information about a previous murder. A Secret Service agent named Kroft appears to be starting a cover-up about Thurston and the crash. …

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