In former TV writer-producer Fischer’s debut thriller, a seemingly random assortment of U.S. citizens targets members of Congress.
Disgraced reporter turned tabloid TV show host Paul Castle has the chance to cover a real story. His former colleague-lover Jennie Bovano tells him that an autopsy suggests that a recently deceased congressman may have been murdered. Paul’s investigation soon connects the deaths of several members of Congress, but their alleged killers seem to have no link to one another. Soon an enigmatic organization called SST takes credit for the murders, lists its “acceptable” members of Congress on a website—and marks the others for death. The novel is unmistakably driven by politics but without leaning to any one side. For example, SST deems those in its crosshairs as socialists, but the book also criticizes capitalism with a subtle anti-big-business motif. The story’s most resounding theme has less to do with politics than with the human response to mass killings. Frighteningly, the public gradually accepts and supports SST’s message and essentially approves of murder. It’s not surprising that innocents are soon caught in the crossfire of SST’s self-proclaimed war. Paul and Jennie are worthy leads, but they’re outdone by secondary characters such as homicide police detective Lt. Aaron Kovacs—who, in his first interview with Paul, kicks off his shoes and massages a sore foot—and Fowler Briggs, a hardened FBI agent who grudgingly befriends Paul after first threatening him. As a thriller, the book is a triumph, with some outrageous killings: At one point, a congressman is assassinated on the golf course, and, at another, a killer apologizes to a woman immediately after killing her husband. Despite the novel’s modern plot, much of its dialogue is emphatically, charmingly old school: Paul is “slugged” by a cop; an anonymous caller warns Paul to avoid “funny business”; and the reporter tells Kovacs that he’s “sniffing around a major lead.”
An engaging, complex political thriller.