Miranda Chase is an air-crash investigator for the NTSB.
She is considered the best in her business, certainly by those who have benefitted from her extremely detailed and beneficial after-crash reports. Her knowledge of aircraft of all sizes and uses is phenomenal and her skill at cutting through the chaff of extraneous data to pinpoint the key elements to how and then why each plane went down is legendary.
When we first meet her, she is likely in her early 30's, based on her being 13 years old when her parents died in the TWA-800 explosion and crash over Long Island in 1996. All of her childhood had been spent working on, and almost invariably solving, puzzles of any and all types and with the mystery of why the plane carrying her parents had exploded focused that fascination in an intense way. Immediately after college graduation she joined the National Transportation Safety Board and for the next nearly decade and a half she has worked an impressive number of crashes, increasing her knowledge and her status with the agency.
Chase has ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is explained by the author as "a developmental disorder. Being a spectrum, some of these people have severe issues. But many are more and more considered to be 'other gifted' - if they can be helped to find what that other gift might be. When our "neurotypical" (not on the ASD spectrum) culture thinks of autism, many imagine Dustin Hoffman's amazing performance in Rain Man. This is almost entirely wrong. Savant Syndrome is exceedingly rare (perhaps a hundred living today); autism is terrifyingly common and on the rise (perhaps as high as two percent of children born in the US)."
In Chase's case, she is more than capable of taking care of herself on a day-to-day basis for it is in the routine she finds comfort. Unusual and sudden and unexpected things can cause her trouble and change is something she has a great deal of difficulty handling. And understanding emotions, mostly in other people but also, though less so, in herself. Humor, for one thing, is a challenge to her and sarcasm usually flies over her unnoticed. Facial expressions are such a challenge that she has taken to using a set of emotion icons in her ever-present notebook to try to equate what a person's countenance is saying about their feelings.
"Thoroughly tactless, painfully oblivious, yet possessed of a shining brilliance that others can only admire. Yet she isn't superwoman. She's fallible, alone, and afraid of her own shadow. Trusting her new team isn't something that an autistic would do. The team members are new, and therefore unnerving at best and scary at worst."
Chase has over the years with the NTSB had to work with a variety of people but they seemed to come and go far to quickly for her comfort. At the beginning of the first recorded adventure, she is being assigned three people new to her and she has to come to grips with this unwelcome change. But that team will quickly grow to be a core group that will aid her tremendously in her investigations and will help protect her from the myriad of unpleasant distractions that every day life presents.
Those team members are:
Holly Harper - an Australian woman, 5'10 in height and extremely fit and agile. She was for several years an active member of the elite Australian Special Air Service but now, through events explained in the tales she is in America and working with the NTSB. Her specialty is the tangible - the studying of the pieces remaining in any crash and learning where each part fit. She is shown on many occasions to be exceptionally capable of handling herself in any physical confrontation.
Mike Monroe - a handsome, very cool and suave expert in people, he is the "operations and human-performance" specialist. It is his job in an investigation to understand what the people behind the controls did or did not do in reaction to the emergency. He is a ladies' man with a long line of satisfied friends thanks to his appreciation of them and his impressive ability to listen and observe. He consistently seems like he is ruled by his hormones but really is not.
Jeremy Trahn - a Vietnamese-American who is a systems specialist. He is the youngest of the group and is only recently out of college but his grasp of all things electronic is incredible. He is impressionable, totally in awe of Chase and stunned he is now working with her, and in his own way often clueless about the people around him.
As time goes by, a couple more people will join the 'Chase team' and will become extremely important to the other members.
Plus in the adventures we will come to know several other people that will routinely have a part in the activities. The two most important (IMHO) ones are General Drake Nason, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and Clarissa Reese, Deputy Director of the CIA when we first meet her.
Miranda Chase is not a spy nor is she knowingly involved in any form of international intrigue; such things would be far too much outside her comfort zone. Her investigations of the various airplane mishaps, however, throw her and her team constantly into the middle of a lot of activity and danger that more than qualify her for membership in this compendium.