A moneyed, dysfunctional, power-mad American family is pitted against an even direr plot to peek into the darkest recesses of every American closet.
Apart from patriarchal Jimmy Lee Hancock, the head of the family is Connecticut governor and presidential hopeful Paul Hancock. Not far behind is his brother Teddy, CEO of Warfield Capital, the family’s investment fund. But the real brains and guts are supplied by their hard-drinking brother Bolling, who’s had Paul’s number ever since he buried a dead prostitute for him years ago, and knows Teddy would run Warfield into the ground if Bo ever took his hand off the tiller. With a crew of siblings like this—there’s also a pair of ill-assorted sisters—you can expect some pleasantly shivery bumps along the road to megabucks and the White House, and for a while Frey (The Insider, 1999, etc.) canters along nonchalantly as if he were rewriting the Kennedy saga in the manner of the late Mario Puzo, right down to the dialogue. (“Am I worthy of your love?” Bo wonders of his loyal, beloved, barely-there wife Meg.) At length, though, he reveals a deep-dyed snake—a monstrous, murderous covert intelligence-gathering operation (think Big, Big Brother) code-named RANSACK—that’s made its way into the Hancock bosom, setting brother against brother and leaving a trail of professionally dispatched corpses in its wake. Can Bo, first branded a black sheep and banished to Montana, then finding his poisoned friends-and-relations closing ranks against him on his return, save the Hancocks and the nation from a fate they richly deserve?
The pasteboard characters don’t torpedo Frey’s labyrinthine plot, but the clunky writing does. Better wait for the inevitable TV movie, where you can enjoy the spectacle of up-and-coming performers trying to sell zingers like “He fools everyone with his charm, but he’s evil.”