The Incumbent

Brian McGrory, Author
Brian McGrory, Author Pocket Books $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7434-0350-4
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-7434-0351-1
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HJust in time for the 2000 presidential campaign comes this crisp Washington thriller, a superb first novel from the Boston Globe's former chief White House correspondent. The intrigue begins less than two weeks before the election. Jack Flynn, chief White House reporter for a Boston paper, asks at a press conference why President Clayton Hutchins has pardoned a certain felon. Quickly, Flynn is summoned to join the president for golf at Congressional Country Club, where he's invited to become the next White House press secretary. Right after that, a gunman opens fire, grazing the president but landing Flynn in Bethesda Naval Hospital. He's no sooner awake after surgery than he receives an anonymous phone warning: ""Do not believe anything that they tell you."" Flynn, of course, wants to investigate the attempted assassination; unfortunately for him, Secret Service agents have not only killed the shooter, but have conveniently rendered his body very hard to identify. Further mysterious phone calls put Flynn on the trail of what he suspects is an FBI coverup. From D.C., the trail leads to a remote Idaho militia stronghold, and then to murky dives in Boston. The peripatetic journalist-hero must stay one jump ahead of a killer intent on eliminating him and his story. Meanwhile, romantic overtures from sexy FBI agent Samantha Stevens tie Flynn in knots while the body count rises. As Flynn comes closer to the truth, questions of journalistic ethics, newspaper culture and Clinton-era politics begin to inform the narrative. Fans of Baldacci's Absolute Power or Demille's The Lion's Game should plunge into McGrory's enticing plot, following Flynn and his makeshift allies and enemies through a complex and credible web of deceit. (Sept.)
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