cover image The Only Thing to Fear

The Only Thing to Fear

David Poyer / Author Forge $22.95 (429p) ISBN 978-0-312-85709-

Solid research buttresses Poyer's (Winter in the Heart) latest, a consistently engrossing WWII suspense novel featuring FDR and skinny naval officer John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This is not the presidential JFK but a young war hero who suffers terrible guilt and a bad back after his torpedo boat is rammed by a Japanese destroyer; in addition, he is chronically fatigued by an undiagnosed illness. Departing from history, Poyer envisions Kennedy assigned to FDR as an aide on the president's personal staff to guard him from an assassination threat. Indeed, a Russian assassin, who has defected to the Nazis, is taken by U-boat to Chesapeake Bay with orders to kill the president. According to the scenario, the murder will implicate the Russians, split the Allies and draw America into fighting the Soviets along with the Third Reich. Poyer turns this farfetched plot into a gripping thriller with womanizing Jack Kennedy as a knockout lead. We know the president must die soon at his home in Warm Springs, Ga.-but, in Poyer's version, his death occurs in a manner different from the historical record. Poyer's narrative skills improve with each of his rousing adventures; and here well-rounded characters populate an intriguing plot that illuminates much about the war and the birth of the U.N. Author tour. (Apr.)