The Minotaur

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jake Grafton survived his kamikaze-style attack on the airplane carrying a Libyan terrorist (THE FINAL FLIGHT) to emerge a hero--complete with promotion and the Medal of Honor. Still, the naval hierarchy remains a bit miffed at a subordinate who marches to a different drummer, most especially when the junior officer turns out to be very correct in his decision. Fortunately, Jake sustained injuries in his final flight sufficient to remove him from flying airplanes but not from piloting a desk. Moreover, since the navy needs a carrier strike aircraft to replace the A-6, the defense contractors are engaged in bitter conflict to win a contract which will ensure their financial security for the next decade. It seems too good to be true: Assign the new, if slightly insubordinate, hero as project manager for the new aircraft and let him take the congressional disapproval when one defense contractor wins out over the competition.

Complicating the whole affair is the fact that the Pentagon has sprung a leak--a mole deep in the defense establishment, known only as Minotaur, is compromising the nation’s most vital technology advances. Jake Grafton is well aware that selecting the best prototype will be for naught if the entire operational profile is passed to the Russians. He must find Minotaur, and he is afraid that those assigned to the case may be traitors themselves.

Stephen Coonts transferred the reality of carrier operations against North Vietnam to the printed page most effectively in the best-selling FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER. He followed that performance with the chilling, if somewhat improbable, thriller FINAL FLIGHT. Now in THE MINOTAUR Coonts demonstrates that he has gained the necessary skill to combine the best of Len Deighton and Tom Clancy, producing a military thriller which will delight even the most exacting devotee of the genre. More important, THE MINOTAUR personalizes the problems connected with weapons procurement in such a manner that red faces are destined to proliferate among the ranks of the “beltway bandits” who dominate weapons system development in this country. THE MINOTAUR is a novel with a message, but it is also pure entertainment which is as volatile as aviation fuel.