THE PRICE OF POWER by James W. Huston


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A dated, tediously plotted revision, posing as a sequel to Huston’s stirring, high-tech Washington legal procedural, Balance of Power (1998). That annoying Indonesian pirate who calls himself George Washington is at it again. This time, he’s kidnapped the president and wife of an American company operating a jungle gold mine. Washington kills the husband and threatens to torture the wife if the US doesn’t return his 28 compatriots, captured in a daring raid by Admiral Ray Billings at the end of Balance of Power. Billings used an obscure Constitutional provision discovered by legal wizard Jim Dillon as justification to disregard an order from waffling, pacifistic US President Manchester to let the Indonesian government handle the problem. Now, a vengeful Manchester has ordered Billings court-martialed. Disgusted that his boss, House Speaker Stanbridge (a Newt Gingrich stand-in), won’t help raise money for the admiral’s defense, Dillon quits his job and offers to defend Billings pro bono. White House Counsel Molly Vaughn, Dillon’s on-again, off-again fiancÇe, is similarly disgusted with the President’s paranoid chief of staff, Arlan Van den Bosch. She quits and joins Dillon in time to take a bullet (not fatal) meant for the admiral. As Dillon improvises his defense, Stanbridge rams a quickie impeachment hearing through Congress, accusing the President of not protecting American lives on foreign soil. Dillon and Vaughn discover a military technicality that exonerates the admiral and yet another Constitutional provision that gives Congress the power to send in the Navy SEALs—but not before Dillon gets his old job back and becomes point man at the President’s impeachment trial, where he ultimately forces Manchester to let the SEALs do their thing. Right-wing cant and a vastly hypothetical scenario reduce this overlong cautionary tale to little more than a hardware-heavy Tom Clancy clone. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-15918-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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