cover image Broken Wings

Broken Wings

John Douglas. Pocket Books, $24 (324pp) ISBN 978-0-671-02391-1

After five nonfiction outings (including the best-selling Mindhunter), Douglas and Olshaker jump into the deep end of the thriller pool with a creditable series opener that establishes the swift-response flying squad of agents that former FBI agent Douglas never got a chance to implement in real life. The team is led by fictional ex-FBI profiler Jake Donovan, who not only shares the initials of one of his creators but his nickname as well (he's called ""the Mindhunter""). After getting himself fired for insubordination, Donovan is called back to investigate the apparent suicide of FBI director Thomas Jefferson Boyd, who's found dead in his San Francisco home along with a compromising picture that suggests he was being blackmailed. Donovan, who had earlier refused a blank-check offer from wealthy widow Millicent De Vries to create his flying squad, reconsiders and gathers a crack team of experts to assist him in his investigations. The team's adversary is a criminal mastermind who will undoubtedly be showing up in future episodes of the series, and Donovan is provided with a worthy love interest, fellow agent Kathleen McManus, herself suspended for posing for a pantyhose catalogue. As the team crisscrosses the country in its private plane, enough red herrings are introduced to keep the plot lively. Though the novel is not as assured as Douglas and Olshaker's authoritative nonfiction, and Jake Donovan tends to read as a watered-down version of Douglas, this is, overall, a solid, promising debut. Still, fans of the clinically detailed Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness may well be disappointed when they discover that in this case fiction is not as gripping as fact. Agent, Jay Acton. 7-city author tour. (Nov.)