Scott Weiss, ex-cop, now owner of a private investigation agency, sends Jim Bishop, one of his operatives, to a small airport in northern California. Ray Grambling, part owner of the FBO, has concerns that one of his pilots, Chris Wannamaker, may be involved in some kind of very shady deal with Bernie Hirschorn, the other FBO partner.
Bishop, operating undercover as Frank Kennedy, enjoys living on the edge He pushes Chris to the limit by seducing his wife and spreading rumors about his drinking in hopes that he (Bishop) will be hired to replace Chris as the pilot for the big job that Hirschorn has planned.
In the meantime, Ben Fry, whom we later realize is also know as the Shadowman, has gone to great lengths (even to implanting a device under his skin that won't show up in strip searches) to get himself imprisoned in the most secure prison in California, one reserved for incorrigibles and extremely violent offenders.
Weiss, during the course of another investigation, realizes that several people have been killed or have disappeared in seemingly unrelated events, and he finds a startling connection. They are all related to Whip, a man who specialized in creating new identities for criminals, identities so secure that once created, no law enforcement agency has been able to penetrate them. Whip, having knowledge of who became whom, is terrified that he may also have become a target, so he is placed in deep protective custody in a maximum security prison (guess what's coming?).
The book is a little unusual in that we see the story evolve from three points of view: Bishop's, Weiss's, and the first-person narrative of another Weiss employee. He stands in awe of Weiss's understanding of human nature. The narrator, whose name we never learn, inadvertently solves the Case of the Spanish Virgin and discovers some key elements of the case against the Shadowman. If this all sounds a little hokey, I suppose that's because it is. Still, a very entertaining read.