While workers ready the nuclear attack submarine Mystic for her launching, comely Cynthia "Casey" Kiernan, PR chief at New England Shipbuilding Corp. (NESCO) in Connecticut, struggles with distracting office politics and the slings and arrows of "investigative" journalists more intent on Pulitzers than objectivity. One such is Brad Neiman, young, self-centered Defense reporter for the Washington Word. On a business trip to Westchester Countys New Rochelle, Neiman flees from a midnight hit-and-run witnessed only by Frank Manning, a part-time bookstore clerk.Kiernans occasional free-lance hires at NESCO include respected Hartford Crier photographer Ray Borelli. Ray reacts rather irrationally when he perceives an offense to his person. His antagonists rarely survive to testify against him. Ray nurses an intense grudge against Second District U.S. Congressman Bob Avery, and plots to amend an imaginary injury inflicted by Avery.A bitter presidential election, an FBI investigation, and a close-up look at the logistics of christening and launching an 8,000-ton nuclear submarine provide a backdrop for this story, anchored at "The Ship," a notorious, century-old submarine builder.Events unfold in Connecticut, New Rochelle, and Washington DC, as Mystics crew prepares the last Navy submarine to make the traditional slide down the yards building ways.