The Dean Ing series continues.
Raw Feed (1994): The Ransom of Black Stealth One, Dean Ing, 1990.
I found the plot of this book not as compelling or surprising (though I was once or twice surprised) as its sequel, The Nemesis Mission, but the characters were more compelling, and the tech of Black Stealth One aka Hellbug, a stealth v/stol with a pixel skin that, under computer direction, can render the craft nearly invisible (from a specific angle) to visual detect was more interesting.
Basically the plot is a toned down revenge story. Very talented military pilot and aircraft designer of the Hellbug, Kyle Corbett (my favorite stunt of his is flying the light Hellbug very low over the Gulf of Mexico to evade sighting and radar detection, so low he uses an air cushion effect for lift and to extend range); narrowly escapes death at the hands of someone in the U.S. Government. In revenge, he steals the billion dollar Hellbug and kidnaps Petra Leigh, niece (actually daughter but only Weston and Corbett know this) of CIA deputy of Science and technology, Dar Weston. He suspects Weston, a personal friend, is the one that tried to kill him. (He’s right.) A thrilling chase ensues which Corbett wins. I knew it was inevitable that Leigh and Corbett fall in love, and I found Leigh annoying at first but less so as time progressed.
Norman Spinrad, in a review of Ing’s The Nemesis Mission, spoke of the joy of flying that infuses that book. That’s even more true here. Corbett loves flying the Hellbug, and we feel his thrill. His accomplice, Medina, (who he illegally smuggled Hellbug secrets to while they both worked on the project so Medina could improve the design of his own personal plane), loves flying too. Their crimes of espionage are motivated by this love. But the best plot element involves the character of Sasha, a male who throughout the book is depicted as giving secrets to the Soviets. They don’t know who he is, though. It’s revealed at novel’s end that it’s Weston – the same Weston who has been a thorn in the side of the Soviets with his counterintelligence operations against their agents. Weston has taken it upon himself to be a double agent to preserve the balance of power between East and West even if it means betraying American secrets as well as capturing Soviet agents. He tried to kill Corbett to stop him from being interrogated, an interrogation that would show Weston as a security leak. It’s a twist on the spy game I haven’t seen before. Corbett and Medina try to horn in on a CIA scheme to sell a prototype of the Hellbug to the Soviets as a disinformation ploy. They manage to get away with the cash and the Hellbug and are thought dead by the government.