Murder by jungle lion gets this CIA–laced story off to a rousing start.
In Paper’s (Perfect, 2010, etc.) debut novel, attorney Jeff Roberts reads a disturbing letter written by his father before his death. Soon Jeff believes that his phone is tapped and that he is being watched. Frightened, he decides to take a long vacation in Africa with girlfriend Nicole Landow, but their photographic safari ends when Jeff has a deadly encounter with a lion. After his death, which may have involved criminal activity, Jeff’s sister Kelly receives their dad’s unsettling letter. In his dispatch, Ted Roberts admits that when he was a White House CIA case officer in the 1960s, he played a part in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The letter includes coded information to be directed to the JFK Assassination Records Review Board. Kelly, dumbfounded by her father’s confession, shares the letter with Senate staffer and Navy SEAL Jim Roth, Jeff’s best friend. Horrifying as its contents are, the letter itself is bad juju. Almost anyone reading it—Jim and Kelly included—soon encounters dangerous situations, and some who are shown the missive even end up dead. In fact, CIA Director Kay Brownstein suggests Kelly leave well enough alone to avoid taking “deadly risks” (but of course, she doesn’t listen). As conspiracy theories go, Paper, a Washington, D.C., attorney, offers an intriguing one that links top-level U.S. officials to the assassination. Dialogue and pacing are superb, and the chapter in which the safari tour company is sued in court is authoritatively well-written. But the use of italic type for large sections of text is daunting; italics are used for revealing past events, characters’ memories, and the contents of letters. Regarding the last, Kelly takes to writing to her dead father, which seems an inelegant way of providing exposition. It’s also almost comical that nearly every time someone sits on a chair or couch, it is made of leather. In addition, characters far too frequently nurse, swig, sip, or take long swallows of beer or wine.
Catnip for conspiracy theorists and fans of fast-paced thrillers.