Presidential Deal

Les Standiford, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-018655-5
Standiford again proves he has the right stuff with this fifth--perhaps breakout--episode in the ongoing misadventures of unassuming, dilemma-prone Miami builder John Deal (Deal on Ice, etc.). Overnight, Deal achieves national hero status when he and ex-cop sidekick Vernon Driscoll save a boatload of Cuban refugees from drowning in Biscayne Bay. Modestly protesting the ordinariness of his act, Deal is awarded the Presidential Medal of Valor. As a campaign gimmick, the president moves the presentation ceremony to Miami, and the accidental hero is unwittingly caught in a sinister web of high-level chicanery. In what is staged to look like a Latino terrorist attack, hosts of innocent dignitaries and bystanders are gunned down, and the First Lady and Deal are taken as hostages to a tiny isolated tropical island. Despite flak from the tightly wound spook in charge, Driscoll uses his underworld connections to locate the small-time hood who supplied the contraband weapons to the terrorists and embarks on a hairy rescue mission, which leads to Nassau and back to the Keys. The indomitable Deal manages to survive a hurricane, turn the tables on the world-class terrorist leader and save the First Lady before he ultimately exposes the malevolent mastermind in the White House. For all the baroqueness of the plot, Standiford builds a tight narrative with credibly flawed characters and a powerful sense of place. Author tour. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
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