Group Captain Gavin Gallagher, distinguished RAF pilot, now commanding officer of the strategic missile squadron at North Luddenham, disappears in possession of the key allowing those missiles to be fired. Recently posted to North Luddenham is an old acquaintance, Wing Commander Bunting. Friends at Oxford, they did their flying training together before parting ways. Called in to a meeting with other senior officers, they discuss what they know of Group Captain Gallagher in the hopes of discovering why the man has disappeared, and just what he might be intending.
But they each know a different Gavin Gallagher; a man who never found flying easy, haunted by the guilt of wartime deaths, and living in the shadow of personal loss, who nevertheless rose to a position of responsibility within the RAF. Where has he gone? And what is the cause of his sudden disappearance?
David Beaty’s classic novel takes the reader from Bomber Command at the height of the Second World War, to the tensions of the Cold War in the 1970s, through the eyes of a singular officer with more to hide than his colleagues suspect.