On a tranquil summer night in July of 1996, a Boeing 747 on its way to Paris from Kennedy Airport with 230 passengers and crew onboard explodes in midair, then falls in fiery pieces into the Atlantic. Although more than 200 witnesses report seeing a mysterious streak of light rise into the sky toward the plane, the explosion is attributed to mechanical malfunction and the case is officially closed. Five years later, John Corey, the cynical protagonist from Nelson DeMille's Plum Island (1997) and The Lion's Game (2000), is drawn into the unresolved mystery by his wife, Kate Mayfield, an FBI agent who interviewed witnesses and family members after the disaster. Although Corey and Mayfield, who now both work for the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force, have been told in no uncertain terms to let sleeping dogs lie, Corey smells a cover-up and uses his hard-nosed detective skills to follow an extremely cold trail. That trail begins with the rumor of an anonymous couple who, while videotaping their illicit sexual escapades on a Long Island beach, accidentally recorded the crash. And while wild theories abound as to the cause of the explosion an experimental government laser weapon, an explosive underwater gas bubble, friendly fire, etc. Corey finds hard evidence that the anonymous couple might hold the key to the mystery. With the FBI and CIA after him, Corey works furiously to find the videotape and uncover the truth.
While writing a fictitious account about a tragedy like TWA Flight 800 is risky on many levels, DeMille tackles this still-volatile subject with sensitivity and class. Some readers may not agree with his conclusions, but everyone who reads Night Fall will understand the critical significance of the questions raised about national security and admire DeMille's deft blend of serious issues and spellbinding suspense.