WINTER KILLS by Richard Condon


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This clever reader figured out at least a hundred pages before the hero did that it was actually the Joe Kennedy papa who arranged the assassination of John Kennedy President -- but not that papa's demonic professor employee had dreamed up half the ""scenarios"" in the book to beguile the dead President's sleuthing half-brother from the truth. The investigator, Nick Thirkield, begins when a dying crane operator says he was the second rifleman, and the Oswald assassin a mere coffee-runner patsy who ""couldn't drive nails in a snowbank."" It seems that the nation's giantest right-wing oilman, who happens to be the patron of the LBJ successor and the father of Nick's mistress, set up the hit. But after a tangle with various crooked cops and vicuna-underwear Mafiosi and large-nippled ladies, who are wooden in thriller fashion but really quite wittily carved, Nick discovers the horrid fact that there is a cabal of his father and the other humanitarians ""who own this country."" He is aided by a Billy Graham and a CIA-McCone, resolved to do away with the President, because he abandoned his pledge to serve their profits, and in between there are his habitual cloakroom copulations in which he actually undertook to ""teach the niggers how to read,"" etc. The earlier apostrophe by a fake oilman perhaps clued Nick better: the dead President's anti-business image amounted to ""horseshit."" But anyhow ""Was the history of all time piled up in a refuse heap at the back of humanity's barn, while faked artifacts took charge in the front parlors?"" Condon is the author of The Manchurian Candidate and nine more forgotten novels; this one may restore him to the front parlor. It is entertaining.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1974
Publisher: Dial