Samantha “Sam” Harrison must lead the United States against coordinated nationwide terrorist strikes in this political thriller, the final installment of a trilogy.
Returning for her third appearance, Sam’s now the 46th U.S. president, defeating Hillary Clinton’s bid for a second term. Sam’s first year in office, 2021, is burdened by rumors of terrorist attacks in America. These are exacerbated by Iranian religious leader Ali Khamenei’s viral YouTube video, a speech in which he declares a jihad against the U.S. as well as Britain and Russia. What’s anticipated unfortunately comes true: simultaneous suicide bombers in multiple cities wreak havoc, resulting in thousands of deaths. Sam, who gets advice from former presidents (the Clintons), has a plan involving a potential deal with Russia and making nice with patronizing Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Richard Haddad, deputy director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Services, has leeway to track down suspects, even domestic, which Sam may or may not be aware of. Haddad gets a solid lead following the unexplained disappearance of Chief of Staff Zachary Watts, while fed-up Idaho citizen Mark Steinberger, wanting answers for the mass killings, looks in Washington, D.C., ultimately zeroing in on Sam’s congresswoman daughter, Amanda Harrison-Donnelly. Sam’s more than proven herself throughout Wood’s (Presidential Declarations, 2015, etc.) trilogy, a strong political figure who’s overcome tragedies, like her husband’s death. But the story spotlights numerous strong female characters, including Amanda; SEAL-trained limo driver and bodyguard Sara Friedman; and even—in a small role—veteran “no-nonsense judge” Carol Ann Vogel. Wood generally forgoes detailing characters’ physical attributes but molds individuals via personalities; old-school Haddad, for one, loathes using social media as part of his investigations. Much of the plot’s relayed through dialogue, but an unmistakable cynicism of Washington politics prevails. Most notable is political spinning: the president’s staff covers up an “incident” by accusing an innocent man of attempted assassination. Grimmer moments are impossible to miss, from devastating explosions to scenes of torture.
A sharp tale of government and terrorism fortified by an exceptional POTUS protagonist.