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After a particularly long cruise, the USS United States is in port in Naples and her crew is enjoying its first liberty in months. But something's not right. Several crew-members have not reported back from their leave and a beautiful American reporter who boarded the United States in Tangiers may not be a reporter, or even an American. When one of Jake's men, in a hotel in Naples, witnesses an assassination attempt led by this woman, Grafton realizes the situation is much more serious than he suspected.
What he doesn't know is that Colonel Qazi, an international terrorist, plans to board the United States and steal six nuclear weapons from her heavily guarded arsenal. Nor does he know that the plot is being financed by El Hakim, the power-hungry leader of an oil-rich Arab state. And most important, he doesn't know he, Jake, past forty and recently grounded by night blindness, is the only one who can stop Qazi, in one man-to-man aerial dogfight, one "final flight."
The final flight of Capt. Jake Grafton will keep readers riveted. His night-flying's over, thanks to failing eyesight. But the fate of the Middle East is hanging in the balance when his F-14 tears off into Mediterranean airspace. Coonts has cast the hero of his first novel, The Flight of the Intruder , as a wing commander aboard an aircraft carrier. He has also thrust him into the bulls-eye of an Arab plot to steal the ship's nuclear weapons. Sounds absurd, as Coonts intends. But the plot's mastermind, one Col. Qazi, is an unequaled artisan in the guild of espionage and terrorism. Qazi has devised a scheme whose twists and turns alternately elude and thwart Grafton and more than one intelligence agency in their attempts to figure out what he's up to. By the time it's clear, Qazi is pitted against the carrier's crew, and the odds are believably on his side. The backdrop is Naples, and the well-detailed lives of Navy pilots. Final Flight has a long fuse, but its detonation is well worth the wait. 300,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour.