1998: THE YEAR OF THE BEAST by Chris Cawood


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 Hang on to your hats, folks, as we blast off for the spacey realm of international terrorism, apocalypse, and numerology. It all starts when Alabama Senator-turned-Vice President Samuel Harrot is assassinated during half-time festivities at the 1998 Sugar Bowl. The triggermen are soon found blown to pieces in their getaway boat, and the trail dies with them--except for Brad Yeary, the New Orleans Times-Gazette reporter who, now unable to wrap up his pregame interview with Harrot, dopes out that Harrot's collapse means murder by parlaying a few lucky breaks into a big story. But it's just those breaks that draw the attention of the desperate FBI and the Secret Service, especially since Brad's girlfriend, Jill Crenshaw, is elevated to the Senate when Louisiana Senator Benjamin Ashford is nominated to succeed Harrot. Intent on clearing himself and Jill from suspicion as well as on landing the true story of the assassination, Brad huddles with down-home Rev. William Hutteth, who points out that 1998 equals 666 (the biblical number of the Beast) times 3--and that the year falls in the middle of the turbulent dozen years bracketed by the reversible dates 1991 and 2002. Hutteth is convinced, and soon Brad is too, that the killing was provoked by militant Muslims, but all the evidence points much closer to home--to a plot to prune Harrot from the Executive Branch that goes all the way to the top. In the manicured hands of Jeffrey Archer, this delirious scenario might have produced a camp classic, but first-novelist Cawood (Tennessee's Coal Creek War, not reviewed) plots too dutifully--even the Kentucky Derby finale fizzles--and writes too earnestly (though there are nuggets to provide much fun: ``Anonymity was his sought after companion,'' muses Brad in a contemplative mood). For regional sports fans and Arab-bashers only. Everybody else is likely to agree with Jill's final verdict: ``I don't like politics, Brad.'' (First printing of 30,000; $30,000 ad/promo budget; author tour)

Pub Date: May 15th, 1996
ISBN: 0-9642231-9-8
Page count: 312pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996