The Cochin Commodore (Matthew Paine Book 1)

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Matthew Paine is a 28-year-old Navy lieutenant and naval aviator well on his way to a stunning career. He is a US Naval Academy graduate and has always been selected first among his peers in every position. In addition, he is dating the daughter of a rear admiral that could enhance his career. While on a routine air-wing workup, he saves the life of an exchange pilot who it turns out is the son-in-law of the Indian Defense Minister. This event becomes pivotal for a dissembling vice admiral to set up a scheme to seek revenge for an event decades old.

In a meeting at the home of his potential father-in-law, Matthew is introduced to this vice admiral who tells him that the US Navy needs to develop a new, very low-cost attack airplane that is the only possible solution to the increasing cost of filling up aircraft carriers with F-18 Hornets. The admiral, who is in charge of the navy’s budget, intends to develop a small, inexpensive, propeller-driver airplane and surreptitiously sell it to the Indians. The admiral asks Matthew Paine to put his aviation career on hold and help sell the new airplane to India. The admiral tells Matthew that the next Indian acquisition czar is the Indian whose life he saved.

The vice admiral tells Matthew that a navy captain, who saved the life of Matthew’s father, will be the figurehead at the American Embassy from which Matthew will work. This captain had years ago married the vice admiral's girlfriend while the admiral was flying in Vietnam. The vice admiral, still festering with rage over losing the love of his life, wants to send Matthew to India as part of the admiral’s plan to make a criminal out of the captain.

Matthew is sent to India, which puts a strain on his relationship with his fiancée. Their relationship is further disrupted because Matthew chooses to pay the college tuition for his Indian chauffeur’s 17-year-old daughter, Sara, whose math skills are super-computer like. In the process of having conversations with Sara, he learns about Indian culture, and more importantly, that relationships between a man and a woman do not have to be confrontational and contentious.

A Washington, DC defense writer discovers and writes about this propeller-driven attack airplane and that the navy is designing it to be used by the Indians against the Pakistanis. She also writes that the airplane is being developed outside of congressional appropriations and oversight.

Congress holds hearings and asks Matthew to testify about the article. The Chief of Naval Operations asks Matthew to lie. As a result, Matthew Paine has to choose between sacrificing the career of his unaware boss and doing what’s good for naval aviation or adhering to his oath to defend the US Constitution. His greatest help comes from the chauffeur's daughter, Sara, now very much in love with Matthew.

The outcome is always in doubt until the very end.


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