New York, N.Y. Dell Publishing, 1990. First Printing thus [Stated]. Mass market paperback. , 438,  pages. Gift inscription (not from the author) inside the front free endpaper. Ink mark on verso. Two small tears at the top of the book's spine. Stephen Coonts (born July 19, 1946) is an American spy thriller and suspense novelist. Stephen Coonts earned a B.A. degree in political science at West Virginia University in 1968. After joining the Navy and going to Officer Candidate School, Coonts went to flight school at Pensacola and earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1969. Coonts was later assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to train in the A-6 Intruder, a medium attack, all-weather and carrier-based jet. Coonts was deployed with VA-196 to Vietnam. He served aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and accumulated 1600 flying hours in the A-6. Coonts was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Coonts separated from active duty as a lieutenant in 1977 but remained as reserve officer, retiring as a commander with 21 years of service. Coonts began writing Flight of the Intruder in 1984, with the book being published in 1986. The novel, based in part on his experiences as an A-6 pilot during the Vietnam War, remained for 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. This launched his career as a novelist, and he continued writing adventure-thrillers, most of them based on the main character from his first book, Jake Grafton. Coonts has also written several other series and stand-alone novels. In 1992, he was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni at his alma mater, West Virginia University. Coonts continues to write, having had sixteen New York Times bestsellers. Derived from a Kirkus review: Here, Jake Grafton, naval aviator hero of Coonts' Flight of the Intruder and Final Flight, is the desk-bound bureaucrat trying to select the Navy's next superplane under the watchful eyes of Soviet moles and greedy politicians. Captain Grafton U.S.N. is getting little pleasure from his Congressional Medal of Honor. The daring, suicidal action that won him the medal also put him in a bad light with the admirals and scared the daylights out of his wife. Grounded by his injuries, cool-shouldered by Mrs. Grafton, Jake is trying to reconcile himself to a life of inactivity--when he is summoned to the Pentagon and surprisingly assigned to a prestigious but very risky new job. He's to supervise the efforts of a team gathered to evaluate the prototypes of a new Stealthy jet for the Navy's carriers, replacing a man who was murdered as he tried to carry out the same task. Grafton's orders are to work fast, make the best choice, avoid antagonizing any of the politicians whose careers ride on his decision, and keep everything he's doing out of sight of the Minotaur--the Kremlin's mole in the Pentagon who's piping all the hottest secrets in naval aviation off to Moscow. Grafton, ably assisted by his team of experts--including his protégé Lt. Toad Tarkington and the object of Tarkington's lust, beautiful test pilot Lt. Rita Moravia--kicks the tires on a conventional Stealth model and an all-new bird with an antiradar gizmo that will set the Soviets back a couple of centuries if it works. Meanwhile, FBI agent Luis Camacho--who may or may not be loyal to either the US or the USSR or maybe even both--supervises the race to find and identify the Minotaur before he spills the beans about the antiradar device. Detection and thrills quite properly dominate the techno-thriller narrative. The plot is solid and the characters are flesh and blood--a pleasant change from the usual technology savvy characters, another winner for Coonts. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Navy, Test Pilots, Espionage, Jake Grafton, Medal of Honor, Rita Moravia, Toad Tarkington, Luis Camacho, FBI, Antiradar, Technical Evaluation, Prototype, Stealth Aircraft, Espionage, Spying