Fiercely moral, magisterial melodrama that shows Puzo (The Godfather) a Balzac at the top of his form. This is Puzo's most strongly knit novel, one that marries his so-called serious work with his potboilers. The subject is power. Francis Xavier Kennedy, a cousin of John and Robert who has inherited the Kennedy charisma, is a legal prodigy, the youngest professor ever to teach law at Harvard, and by a miracle of polities (after one term as Senator) has been elected President and is now campaigning for reelection. Tragically, his wife died of cancer a few months before his first inauguration. His daughter Theresa, 23, a philosophy student living in Rome with a lover and quite cavalier about the Secret Service detail protecting her, is flying home for Easter. Kennedy has deep assassination fears but conducts himself fearlessly, under the protection of his closest staff member, Attorney General Christian Klee, who is head of the FBI, the Secret Service, and in charge of the President's security. To guarantee Kennedy's absolute security, Klee handles clandestine surveillance beyond the scope of the law and so comes into secrets useful to Kennedy about members of the Socrates Club, a group of billionaires antagonistic to Kennedy. In Rome, a terrorist group called the Christs of Violence assassinates the Pope and, led by the psychotic Arab Yabril, hijack's Theresa's jet and flies it to oil-rich Sherhaben, a small Arab kingdom friendly to Yabril, where Theresa is held hostage on board the jet. Meanwhile, two young physics professors plant a tiny A-bomb in Times Square. Puzo's plot moves forward with mighty climaxes, holding aloft an earthquakeproof suspension bridge stretching from first page to last. His theme: power even at its noblest subverts the law and the closest bonds of friendship. Puzo works up deep throbs of Kennedy nostalgia while etching Washington politicos with the flair of Daumier or a basilisk-eyed Godfather nipping his puppets about. Lean, mean, no fat. A rocket through the roof.