The famous Randall Excelsior “Rex” Bellenboch is a blowhard conservative talk show host at a Boston radio station. One of his staffers, Kurt, is a rising star in the business and hopes to get on the air himself one day. When Rex orders his underlings to research some of the left’s discredited conspiracy theories so he can humiliate liberals on the air, Kurt gets to work. As he looks into possible corporate misdeeds, he meets Harvard University student and liberal activist Mindy Brand, daughter of a Pulitzer Prize–winning professor. Kurt and Mindy don’t trust each other, but when Mindy faces a crisis and asks Kurt to help her, he reluctantly agrees. Despite the book’s boilerplate liberal-is-good, conservative-is-bad premise, readers who enjoy a good mystery will look past the stereotypes to focus on the story, which eventually gives Mindy and Kurt an intriguing ally: a former Navy SEAL with a pornography problem and other mental difficulties. Readers will wonder who he really is, and whose side he’s really on. The investigation expands to include the FBI, the CIA and a pharmaceutical company, and at one point, there’s a torture scene involving a Middle Eastern suspect that’s so gruesome it would make 24’s Jack Bauer blush. Reman’s strongest suit is sharp dialogue (“Sometimes we have to make choices.” “I might get killed and you call it a choice?”). However, the book sometimes delivers stilted descriptions: “After further discussion, they each got their respective laptops and made their way to the living room.” Occasionally, some aspects of characterization seem unrealistic; for example, when Mindy asks Kurt whether he’d be bothered if she used explosives to kill someone, he’s strangely not very troubled at all. However, as the book races to its conclusion, Reman does manage to throw some curveballs that make the novel a satisfying read.
A fun thriller for conspiracy buffs of all political stripes.