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I am stunned by the number of 5 star reviews - it makes me worried that I am reading the same book. I read lots of thrillers and enjoy them because they are clearly pure escapism and are not realistic. But this is a political thriller, with imaginary political characters so it must stand up to some kind of reality check - and it fails on many scores.
Can you imagine a US President being involved in a plot for the CIA to steal the Mace of the House of Representatives to give to the Russian President as a bargaining chip for cheaper oil? As I am an Aussie I learned a lot about US Congressional procedures and the history of the Mace which has 13 ebony rods representing the first 13 States of the Union, and that first Mace was destroyed when the Capitol Building was burnt in 1814 and another one was made in 1842 by a New York silversmith. None of this interesting background added any reality or believability to the plot.
I also cannot believe that a relatively recent member of the House could get dragged into the politics of Romania and help CIA covert agents to find his political agent who had been kidnapped by a group of old-time renegade Communists. As well his best friend strikes up a close relationship with a much younger First Class Air Hostess he meets on a flight to Romania, who stays on with him in Romania without any problems from the airline. Unbelievably she also gets involved and helps the CIA with their dirty work. It really would be a spoiler to mention the consequences when the unscrupulous Chief of Staff to the President decides to deliver the Mace himself to Romania.
Does all that need a reality check? My word it does. I only finished the book because I was fascinated to see what the plot was all about - and it was hardly worth the effort.
I have kindly given the book a 2 star rating because the writing and character development were reasonable.