A debut political thriller tracks the meteoric and perilous rise of a Latina U.S. president.
Isabel Aragon “Tenny” Tennyson hails from a prominent Mexican family that owns and operates Groupo Aragon, a sprawling corporate conglomerate. Her brother Federico, groomed his whole life to take over the business, suddenly decides to become a Jesuit priest, leaving Tenny to eventually assume the reins. But Federico reveals to her that their family’s treasure has been conjured from blood and misdeeds, a vast criminal conspiracy that collaborates with drug cartels and autocratic governments. Tenny attempts to reform the company but is blocked by its corrupt gatekeepers. She moves to the United States, flush with a massive inheritance, and parlays her resources into political activism. She displays a knack for political theater and quickly becomes a powerful player in Washington, D.C. She runs for Congress and wins on the first try and then becomes a senator next, positioning herself as a champion of the disenfranchised. And when the Democratic candidate for president is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, she is tapped to take his place and becomes the first Hispanic, and first female, president in American history. She successfully pushes for sweeping immigration reform and tackles not only corruption in the financial sector, but ambitiously aims for a sea change in the very structure of American capitalism as well: “The whole financial system’s rotten and it’s rotting the political system. We’ve got to get control of it before it tears the country apart.” But dark forces with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo gather to oppose her and threaten her life. Rothstein has written a timely novel that artfully exploits contentious debate about immigration and oligarchic exploitation. The story is panoramic in scope and charts generations of the Aragon family, making this an unusually deep plot for a political thriller (Tenny’s ancestors include the Duke of Aragon, whose wife, Queen Isabella I of Spain, financed Columbus; “Aragons sailed to the New World with the conquistadors and built a legacy of economic and political power in Mexico”). Sometimes, the action flirts with implausibility, and Tenny is peculiarly successful—and with breakneck speed—for someone so idealistic. But she remains an enthralling protagonist at the heart of a gripping tale.
A suspenseful—and topical—tale of White House intrigue.