CAPITAL CRIMES by Lawrence Sanders


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Rasputin meets Ronald Reagan in Sanders' 20th novel, a barrel-scraping thriller about a religious healer who worms his way into Presidential good graces. It's hard to believe that this is the same Sanders who wrote The Anderson Tapes and The First Deadly Sin, cracklers that offered sharp suspense and tricky plotting where this serves up hammy melodrama and an ending you can spot almost from the first page. Sanders' overblown villain here is Brother Kristos, a southern faith healer visiting Camp David at the First Lady's behest; when the President's hemophiliac son begins to bleed, Kristos lays on hands and lo!--the flow stops. Kristos is a Rasputin clone, down to the burning eyes, wild beard, and lust for vodka and women (lots of drunken sex here), but that doesn't stop the grateful First Family from ushering him into Washington society--and the bighearted President from bending an ear to Kristos' advice to reform America along religious lines. Of course, the President's old allies resent Kristos: there's aide John Tollinger, who hires a p.i. who digs up the news that Kristos is a former carnie con man (although he may have real psychic gifts; Sanders walks the fence on this, and on his motives); and there's V.P. Samuel Trent, a Boston Brahmin whose plan to use the growing Kristos scandal as a catapult to the Oval Office is foiled because his own aide turns out to be on the KGB's payroll--a traitor at $12,000 a year, no less. After much dull fussing, a conspiracy finally hatches to get Kristos; if you know the amazing story of Rasputin's end, you need read no further. Odder still, the author narrates all this in the present tense, maybe hoping to inject some life into the hoary events: it doesn't work. Sanders has been on a slide for several novels now; with this clownish tale, he's reached his nadir.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1989
ISBN: 042512164X
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1989


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