When a C-130 bound for Southeast Asia explodes on takeoff at remote Wheelus Air Base, Libya, handsome, hard-charging Captain Joe Harding instinctively realizes that the cargo list - ''medical supplies and radio tubes'' - was faked. When Joe's newly-married workout buddy does a swan dive off a fifth story balcony in downtown Tripoli, Joe refuses to accept the semi-official verdict: suicidal depression.
It's amateur night at the ultra-private, members-only Caloosa Club on the Fort Myers, Florida, riverfront. Trouble begins when the fat lady sings. Her triumph is sweet. But, only hours later, the diva lies near death in a hotel room upstairs, the victim of a vicious beating. Hotel manager Dan Ewing and his sidekick, Lee County Detective Bud Wright, soon discover that this was no lady and that a variety of unsavory characters hoped to dance on the dead diva's grave.
Returning to California after eighteen terrifying months in Vietnam, Captain Joe Harding is assigned a trio of duties: assisting his fatherly former commander at base operations, spying on misbehaving bomber pilots and organizing an air show designed to counter the anti-war fever sweeping the state. Meanwhile, his much younger tennis partner has enrolled at Cal Berkeley, enmeshed himself in pacifist politics and resumed his role as Joe's lover.