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SHELLEY'S HEART by Charles McCarry

SHELLEY'S HEART

By Charles McCarry

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-41533-5
Publisher: Random House

 Millennial politics in 2001, in a sumptuous sequel to McCarry's long-running series about secret agent Paul Christopher's family (Second Sight, 1991, etc.). McCarry wastes no time in establishing his electrifying premise: On the eve of President Bedford Forrest Lockwood's second inaugural, his defeated opponent, Franklin Mallory, announces, first to Lockwood and then to the world, that someone in Lockwood's campaign stole the election by manipulating computerized vote tallies in three key states. Will Lockwood resign in Mallory's favor? He will not, thank you, but instead prepares for the inevitable impeachment trial by allowing his chief of staff--Christopher's cousin Julian Hubbard--to nominate as his new Chief Justice (who will by law preside over the trial) the strenuously unaffiliated Archimedes Hammett--that staunch courtroom defender of terrorists and consumer of natural foods. But Hubbard and Hammett, members of the utopian and ultra-secret Shelley Society since their days at Yale, are playing a far deeper game than Lockwood realizes. What they plan, together with the other Shelleyans who've honeycombed the government, is nothing less than the collapse of the presidency and the dawn of a totalitarian new government. It's Seven Days in May all over again, of course, but this time with every thrust and counterthrust--except for a single puzzling assassination early on--planned strictly within the laws of the land. As the Shelleyans plot to show how the Constitution allows for the nation to be delivered legally into the hands of a far-left dictatorship, McCarry grooms Christopher's now-grown daughter Zarah for a crucial role as political mediator and assassination bait. Even discounting the baroque embellishments that keep threatening to derail the story--Ouija board revelations, excursions into Maniā€ te folkways, impassioned accounts of new technologies for embryo recovery, leisurely portraits of every citizen residing within the Beltway--McCarry plots with a grand extravagance that generates tremendous suspense and leaves you more shaken than ever once you've turned the last page.