Griffin's serial novels are simple fun. He has a knack for generating excitement from everyday confrontations. Though he writes about soldiers, their conflicts are more often settled over a conference table than at gunpoint and bureaucratic infighting is more dangerous to them than surface-to-air missiles.

This book launches a new, contemporary series, and compactly demonstrates Griffin's strengths and also displays some of his weaknesses. Once again, we're focused on the tradition of military service among wealthy Southern Americans; how live is this tradition, nowadays? Compare the number of celebrity and political kids in the service in WW2 or WW1 or charging up San Juan Hill to the news from Iraq; there's a big difference. And once again, we've got a guy with the Medal -- and no one notices that even a silver star won't keep the Republicans from calling you a craven coward. Some of the editing is sloppy, as when the high-tech radios come fresh from Silicone Valley?

But there are few writers today who can capture meeting-room drama as well as Griffin.