cover image Deep Background

Deep Background

David Corn, Corn. St. Martin's Press, $25.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20900-1

An intricately plotted debut novel by the Washington editor of the Nation magazine (The Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades), this inside-the-Oval-Office political thriller resurrects vestiges of JFK, LBJ, RMN and the present-day WJC administration with impressive authenticity. On the eve of the (unspecified) party convention, President Hanover, the shoo-in candidate for a second term, is assassinated at a White House press conference while his close personal aide Nick Addis and the horrified world watch on TV; the assailant then takes poison. Caught between supporting the feckless VP-now-prez or the power-hungry newly widowed ex-First Lady, Addis takes refuge in an assignment to fly to New Orleans and squelch some ugly rumors about a tainted land deal that took place while Hanover was still governor of Louisiana. Meanwhile, lone wolf CIA internal watchdog Julia Lancette stumbles onto a possible link between the shooting and an obscure deep cover unit of agency assassins, and is menaced by shadowy figures as potential witnesses start to die. Determined to discover the assassin's identity, Clarence Dunne, the disgraced White House chief of security, eventually crosses paths with Lancette and Addis as, separately, they are led deeper into a complex web of intrigue and deceit. Pressure for Addis to choose political sides intensifies. Dunne is wounded and Addis joins forces with Lancette as they attempt to trace a paper trail to the nameless assassin. As its labyrinthine plot unfolds, the tale takes on unexpected dimension, and Addis and Lancette are drawn toward a violent, edge-of-the-seat denouement. Corn hits the mark with this chilling look at ugly ambition inside the Capital Beltway. (Sept.)