Woods, most often seen recently in the company of lawyer/sleuth/adventurer Stone Barrington (Worst Fears Realized, 1999, etc.), pushes the scion of the Lee family (Grass Roots, 1990 paperback) into a run for the presidency.
It happens like this: Vice President Joseph Adams, the presumptive Democratic nominee, secretly tells Georgia Senator William Henry Lee IV that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and plans to withdraw from the race in Will’s favor, if only the senator will run. Will agrees—but before he can announce, a stroke sends the sitting president into a coma and Joe Adams into the White House as an acting president determined not to endorse anybody till after the conventions. But even before you realize that Woods’s juicy premise was nothing but an excuse to get his principled hero into a national race despite his scruples, the subplots have started to kick in. A former mole put away by Will’s wife Kate, CIA deputy director, offers his secret support in return for a forthcoming presidential pardon. A conservative South Carolina Republican begins a smear campaign designed to insure that Sen. George Kiel takes the nomination away from Will so that he can lose the election to the GOP. A long-buried scandal from Will’s past erupts when he refuses the request of his onetime lover, movie star Charlene Joiner, to file a Death Row appeal on behalf of a murderous rapist he unsuccessfully defended, and the rapist accuses him of incompetence. Even if Will gets past all the obstacles Woods has strewn in his path, there’s still the survivalist who tried to kill him years ago, and is happy to try again. The result is the most unnuanced, even clueless, political thriller you'll read all year.
On the plus side, Woods’s trademark characters, unsurprising and banal, fit perfectly into their roles as political candidates and advisors. Maybe there’s some insight here after all.