Ward Nevins is a pilot whom Harry knew when they served in Korea. He is flying Senator John Elton when their private plane suddenly falters and begins to fall. Nevins radios for help while Elton dons a parachute, but Nevins suddenly passes out and the plane crashes, killing Nevins and injuring Senator Elton. Harry attends the funeral and Nevin's widow Ellen tells him of strange behavior and phone calls by Ward before the fatal flight, and when they arrive at her house it has been ransacked. Harry flies to Fresno and learns that a valve on the plane jammed, but they can't explain why; he also learns the Senator's chute was defective. Harry later learns that Elton is a swing vote on a highway bill that may benefit Northwest Engineering, whose president Hal Follet hates Senator Elton. Harry then learns from Lt. Trench that fingerprints from Ellen's house belong to hit-man Rod Stoner. Another enemy of the Senator is union boss Jake Muller, who has employed Stoner in the past, and Harry ...