We’re in big-time-adventure territory when we hit Ward Larsen’s Fly by Night. This time out (after Fly by Wire) Jammer Davis, a pilot and crash investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, finds himself in hot water in the African nation of Sudan. He’s ostensibly looking into the crash of a cargo plane owned by a Bahamian company whose planes are so substandard it’s referred to as “Fly by Night” airlines. Despite Jammer’s NTSB papers, he’s really there to find out if the Bahamian company has any connection to the local Muslim terrorists, and if so, to determine if the company caused the crash of an expensive US Air Force drone. It’s a dangerous posting, but Jammer, a modern-day Errol Flynn, is up to it. He can fly, he can box, he can scuba dive, and he can shoot very, very straight.
If Jammer has a weakness, it’s his tender heart. When he meets the beauteous Dr. Regina Antonelli, a United Nations doctor working at an isolated desert clinic, he’s swept off his feet. Smitten, he attempts to help her get food and medicine for her patients, but this turns out to be as dangerous as exposing terrorists. The scenes involving the clinic will tear at your heart, for we see fat, government-backed warlords stealing food meant for starving children, and the author uses easily checked data to prove that this is happening right now in real-life Sudan (and other war-torn countries).
Eye-openers aside, Larsen keeps his plot moving by giving us Rafiq Khoura, a shady imam who isn’t the pure-hearted cleric he pretends to be, and Fadi Jibril, an engineer whose brilliance is second only to his religious extremism. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for Jammer. His chivalric combination of toughness and tenderness has gained him many women readers such as myself, but Jammer’s intimate knowledge of aircraft and other skills keeps his male readership strong. And giving him a rebellious teenage daughter to deal with while he’s dealing with corrupt governments, warlords and terrorists—well, that was a stroke of brilliance on Larsen’s part. If you’re ever in trouble in the Sudan, you’d want an all-around hero like him by your side.