The Circus Master's Mission

Joel Brinkley, Author
Joel Brinkley, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (403p) ISBN 978-0-394-57570-4
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Picking up where recent headlines leave off, this first novel by Brinkley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and David Brinkley's son), posits, with convincing attention to detail, circumstances that could lead to full-fledged combat with Nicaragua. In an unnamed post-Reagan administration, Congress bickers over continued aid to the Nicaraguan rebels while a semi-secret task force pursues its own plan to topple the Sandinistas more hastily. Terry Ascher, a State Department up-and-comer, joins the RIG (``restricted interagency group'') and pushes for approval of a highly unorthodox plan for aggressive action. Meanwhile, Chris Eaton, a reporter for a small chain of Southern newspapers, moves closer to the story that could make his reputation. Brinkley plots his novel methodically, with few surprises or intrigues until the end. What gives his story its edge is insight into the workings of government--the squabbles, the denials, the carefully planned leaks--that can't be faked. Brief chapter-by-chapter annotations at the novel's end illustrate exactly which points of the plot are based in fact. (July)
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