THE INCUMBENT by Brian McGrory


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What’s the quickest way for a D.C. correspondent’s career to take off? Being on the scene of a presidential assassination attempt—as the surrogate hero of Boston Globe columnist McGrory discovers to his cost in this breathless debut thriller.

Phoning the White House to ask a routine question about presidential pardons, Boston Record reporter Jack Flynn is taken aback to find himself invited to a round of golf with President Clayton Hutchins, then dumbfounded when Hutchins, locked in a tight election battle, invites him aboard as his press secretary. And that’s before the shots ring out on the 16th green, leaving both men wounded and Jack weighing the decision of a lifetime: Should he vault into the stratosphere by joining the unelected incumbent’s staff, or by riding his eyewitness story as far as it will take him? His reporter’s instincts push him toward the story, especially once his savvy Record colleague Steve Havlicek proves that the shooter the Secret Service killed on the links isn’t Tony Clawson, the California drifter they claim he is, and Jack realizes that the links between Clawson and right-wing survivalist groups that have been driving his reporting are nothing but plants. Even so, he still doesn’t know the identity of the phone tipster who’s been offering him encouragement or telling him, “Nothing is as it seems”; or the reason snipers and bombers keep trying to kill him; or the way the botched assassination is connected to a botched armored car robbery in Boston 20 years ago (though heads-up readers will be ahead of Jack on this last twist).

Through it all—crisp action scenes, formula romance, and a monster story that plows forward with the momentum of a runaway train—McGrory never lets you forget you’re reading about a working-stiff whose first priority is to tell the truth, legally sourced, in time for the early edition tonight and every night. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7434-0350-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000


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