FATAL CONCEIT by Robert K. Tanenbaum


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A political thriller that may try the patience of left-leaning readers.

A man and woman are taken hostage after a terrorist attack on a "peaceful trade mission" by the U.S. in Chechnya. Our government wants them back, of course, but only as long as the issue doesn't derail the president's re-election bid. Then the acting CIA director is murdered. The prez is a lefty in a government that’s overrun with lefties. The characters to root against are easy to identify: liberals with names like Fauhomme (false man?), Malovo (bad egg?) and Faust (devilish defense attorney?). Fauhomme, "the man who put the president in office," is cartoonishly bad—not only does he routinely abuse women and commit crimes to get the president re-elected, but we are repeatedly told that he's fat. The party in power and the president aren’t identified, but the author surely looks as though he’s targeting the current administration. Most thrillers don't come across as so blatantly partisan—usually the threat is external, or at least the bad guy doesn't personify half the U.S. population. The terrorists are al-Qaida, by the way, striking after the president has lied about their total defeat. The press is no better, as the lazy lap-dog liberal lackeys lap up whatever gruel the administration feeds them. A senator tells Fauhomme there's "not much the president can do except more character assassination." Readers who ignore (or appreciate) the narrator’s gratuitous comments will find a well-constructed novel underneath, including solid courtroom scenes. Prosecutor Butch Karp, who has a personal interest in the kidnapping case, is a talented and likable hero.

Patriotic liberals will gag at the tone of this novel, while their conservative counterparts will likely love it. Apolitical thriller junkies will probably enjoy it today and forget it tomorrow.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-3557-7
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014


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