Official Privilege begins with a mystery: in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the mummified body of a black Navy lieutenant is found bolted inside the boiler of a deactivated battleship. While the cause of death is clear, the officer's identity is not. With nerve ends raw from the media focus on recent scandals, the Pentagon bypasses its own investigative service and appoints a commander, Dan Collins, and a civilian, Grace Snow, to conduct an inquiry. Together they resolve to ignore the Navy's political sensitivities and conduct a by-the-book murder investigation. But then they uncover evidence that points back to Washington, D.C., and a two-year-old unsolved case involving another black Navy lieutenant, a beautiful young woman, who died under violent circumstances. While they search for links between the two deaths, they attract the attention of one Malachi Ward. Cunning, ruthless, well paid, and ferociously resourceful, he will do whatever it takes to protect his hidden client's privilege. In a tense, deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Malachi tracks Collins and Snow through Washington's streets and corridors of power, determined to keep them from learning the secret behind the body in the battleship.