A taut, exciting and all-too-believable political thriller by Reagan administration defense secretary Weinberger and collaborator Schweizer (The Next War, 1996).
It’s a post-9/11 world, and Vice President Morgan Boyd is ticked off. His wife has been killed in Delhi, the victim of a bomb meant for him, and his superior, Dean Fairbank, has a soft spot for constitutional niceties that prevent an all-out war on terror. The solution? Well, it helps if the president is out of the way. Unfortunately for him, Secret Service agent Mike Delaney, who screwed up back in Delhi, is implicated; someone’s taken an awful lot of time and trouble to set him up, for reasons best known to him. Arrayed against Delaney are a whole lot of Delta Force types, to say nothing of a rogue team headed by a forcibly retired former Army colleague of Delaney’s and an extremely unpleasant Chilean black-ops specialist, neither of whom thinks twice about killing. Boyd’s plan is elegant: pin the assassination on the right-wing militia, the professional type not “composed of high school dropouts with beer guts who’ve been carrying a chip on their shoulder since they failed the Postal Service entrance exam,” crack down on domestic dissent, declare martial law and head to war with all guns blazing. Sadly for Boyd, though, Delaney is a resourceful fellow, backed by an initially doubtful ally and onetime lover named Mary Campos (“Just look at her, Mr. President. There may be a better-looking woman in the United States Army, but if there is, I haven’t met her”). Matters are complicated, too, by the fact that some officers still remember the business about unlawful orders and the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the government’s going to war against its own citizens, even in Alabama. Crisscrossing the Appalachians, a step ahead of some very bad guys, Delaney does his thing, leaving much to clean up in his wake.
Genuine page-turner, expertly written, reminiscent at its best of James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor.