cover image The Run

The Run

Stuart Woods. HarperCollins Publishers, $26 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019187-0

The prolific Woods returns to his roots with an unexceptional new episode in his Lee family saga, a series dormant since 1989. Will and Kate Lee, now a Washington power couple, decide to go for broke in their service to the country. Will, a popular senator from Georgia, jumps into the race for the presidency, while Kate, a deputy director at the CIA, cheers him on. Will is for the most part about as likable as a politician can be, and boasts impeccable Democratic stripes. The Republicans try to stir up trouble by rehashing Will's sexual dalliance with a movie star nearly a decade earlier and raise questions about his competency as a lawyer on a rape and murder case many years ago. Will deflects those charges, but other problems are brewing. The candidate's liberal leanings are anathema to a right-wing militia group from Idaho, whose leader, Zeke Tennant, tracks Will from one campaign stop to another with a duffel bag full of weapons. In a final showdown, Tennant makes one last assassination attempt, this time while Will debates his Democratic primary challenger at Ford's Theater in the nation's capital. This fourth entry in the Lee family story, launched in 1981 with the Edgar-winning Chiefs, sparks from time to time but never catches fire. Lee would probably make a great president, but as a character he's all smooth surface, no edge and not very compelling. Worse, his run for the presidency lacks any real suspense. The assassin is too much of a bumbler to take seriously, and the Republicans' dirty tricks fizzle out quickly. For edge-of-the-seat drama, Woods (Worst Fears Realized) tries to inject energy into the uncertainty of the delegate-counting process at the party convention. Even political junkies won't get a rise out of that. (June)