Fitzpatrick’s debut political thriller untangles the depths of government corruption in the event of a terrorist attack on the United States’ major cities.
Tommy Burk, a Vietnam veteran and general tough guy, gets pulled into the thick of a terrorist attack when he gets called in by his old commander, New York City’s Police Commissioner Riley. As the American Muslim Brotherhoodsets forest fires across America, three ticking bombs also imminently threaten New York, Chicago and LA—that is, until Burk proves them to be duds. This revelation embarrasses an inept, crooked federal government, led by the fumbling President Hilton, who quickly tries to frame Burk as the villain despite his heroic deeds. By the time the fiendish vice president orders a 9/11-esque attack on a Saudi skyscraper and then pays the fatal price for his actions, the government has really lost control. After repeatedly escaping capture and even death, Burk, Riley and their newfound ally, reporter Kelly Sullivan, become real heroes. Fitzpatrick’s fast-paced narrative is full of sharp turns, many of which are charmingly unbelievable. His portrayal of a government ready to lie, steal and kill is alternately hilarious and confusing, even using thinly veiled fake names for real politicians—e.g., Hilton for Clinton, Bloomfield for Bloomberg, Kearney for Kerry, etc. But the representation of the terrorist sect is a bit uncomfortable. Although, of course, terrorists aren’t likely to be sympathetic, stereotypes about Muslims awkwardly permeate the novel, occasionally even couched in characters’ racial slurs—“I don’t mean to sound like a racist, but a towel head is a towel head”—and broad conflations of Middle Eastern countries. The novel’s unpredictable action is usually more frustrating than fun, complicated by sometimes clunky, repetitive prose: “Americans were scared that they were going to be blown up or burned to death. They were seeing their country destroyed and were scared to death.”
A somewhat strange but mildly exciting novel imagining a titanic crisis.