BLUE HEARTS by Jim Lehrer


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Versatile TV journalist/memoirist/satirist Lehrer (Short List, 1992, etc.) adds espionage to his resumé with this likable extended anecdote about two old CIA grads who accidentally stir up a mess of Kennedy-assassination trouble 30 years after the fact. Charlie Henderson, retired from the Agency to run a West Virginia bed-and-breakfast, first gets wind of the problem when a bomb goes off in his D.C. hotel room and somebody cuts the steering line on his Wagoneer back home. Honing his old tradecraft, Charlie soon satisfies himself that the man behind his troubles is former Secretary of State Bruce Conn Clark, whom Charlie had met only twice--once the day Kennedy was shot, when both men were Agency squirts, and again a few days before the bombing, when he ran into grand old Clark at a restaurant and reminded him of what they'd worked on that day. Following two accounts of Charlie's recent woes--one from Charlie's, one from Bruce's point of view--a long flashback takes us back to November 22, 1963, as the two freshmen are given 12 hours to ascertain the chances that Oswald was acting for the Soviets. Combing the evidence, they conclude, against the advice of legendary paranoid superspook James Jesus Angleton ("The obvious is never the obvious if it's too obvious, or is it?"), that he probably was, but decide to say he wasn't in order to stave off WW III. But Bruce has an additional reason to suppress their reading of the assassination, and glasnost has made him scared of his own shadow--and of inoffensive Charlie, who finds himself, on the basis of a casual remark, locked in a death-struggle with this distinguished policy consultant he hardly knows. Civilized, amusing, matter-of-fact about its insider knowledge, as charmingly readable as you'd expect--but pretty thin work all the same. Lehrer floats like a butterfly, but this time he doesn't sting like a bee.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1586480316
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993


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