Putnam, Jan 2009, $25.95
It is perhaps the most difficult job in the world on any given day, but this particular week has strained American President William Jefferson Lee IV more so than any before as he runs for a second term. His vice president ailing George Kiel died during prostrate surgery. His advisors have vetted California Governor Martin Stanton as being perfect as the new VEEP, but they remain unaware he has a few skeletons in his closet. After Will publicly nominates him, Martin confesses he and his wife are divorcing. They don’t know he is still sleeping with other women and his divorce is not yet finalized.
In Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, Taliban rebels have seized a nuclear missile site that contains two armed warheads; most of the technicians were captured alive. Pakistani President Mohammed Khan plans a swift attack to retake the silo, but a nuclear warhead explodes in the air while the second one is missing. The assumption is the Taliban with El Qaeda abetting them has taken it with plans to turn 9/11 into a minor tragedy in comparison.
Finally making matters worse, former CIA assassin Teddy Fay, who killed right wing politicians after he retired and thought dead (see SHOOT HIM IF HE RUNS), has resurfaced. Teddy’s target is a right wing independent candidate eho might cause the president to lose the election.
Stuart Woods writes an exciting political thriller that showcases how the highest levels of government makes difficult policy decisions politically and managerially in an international world in which the media is everywhere. Especially intriguing is how the aides like Holly Barker try to somewhat insulate their boss; for instance from the Teddy Fay issue by insuring it does cause him to lose his job for keeping quiet that he is alive. Thus the audience obtains an interesting look at the tightrope balancing of political concerns with real world problems as defined by the stolen nuclear weapons. In his fourth POTUS thriller, Mr. Woods captivates his audience from start to finish.