"I am Chano Aldana," he said.

"I am your worst nightmare come to life. I am the faceless, starving masses whom you refused food. I am the slave you delivered in chains to the merciless altar of the moneylenders. I am the sick you refused to heal. I am the beggar you turned away from the feast. To me has been given the key to the bottomless pit. And I have opened it."The drug war has come home to America. All bets are now off. A sociopathic, remorseless Aldana refuses to be made the scapegoat for failed drug interdiction efforts by the U.S. government in Colombia. Aldana's billions are bankrolling the largest organized conspiracy ever launched against Capitol Hill and the U.S. presidency by narco-terrorists. Aldana is a spoiler and is determined to ruin the political power structure that dared extradite him from Colombia on drug-trafficking charges.

The market rate for a presidential assassination is $10 million - with bonuses. Washington is locked under martial law by direct order of the acting president after the president is blasted out of the sky by a mercenary killer who is methodically sniping judges and cabinet members.

Author Stephen Coonts seems himself uncertain that sending his veteran hero Jake Grafton as a special adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff can stabilize this volatile mix of cocaine dollars and buy-'em-by-the-sack politicians. Grafton works through official channels, applying his cool-headed, battle-tested expertise to forestall a potentially inflammatory confrontation between overzealous National Guardsmen and the frustrated citizens who have had their civil rights compromised in the name of national security.

In presenting this latest of his trademark thrillers, Coonts has advanced ultra-realism a step farther by maintaining the actual names of politicians and organizations involved in the government's war on drugs, while thinly disguising the identities of other appointed officials who have done less than their fair share of protecting the public's interests. - Joseph Holland (AP)