cover image Promises to Keep

Promises to Keep

George Bernau / Author Warner Books $0 (0p) ISBN 978-0-446-514

Adding to the numerous fiction books that have explored the assassination of John F. Kennedynotably Don DeLillo's literary thriller, Libra Bernau's debut novel is a solid, often touching thriller with the familiar characters only thinly disguised. The theme here is the wishful premise: ``He didn't die in Dallas.'' America is thrown into turmoil when charismatic President John Trewlawny Cassidy is shot, but not killed, while riding in a motorcade with his chic wife, Suzanne. As Cassidy starts down the long road to recovery, Vice - President Rance Gardner, a long-faced, ambitious Texan, is elbowing his way toward the top and struggling to run the country. Meantime, Strode, the would-be assassin, is murdered while in custody of the Dallas police. Despite pressure from highly placed sources to drop the case, a young FBI agent who traces Strode's trail backward finds the path littered with corpses and all leads pointing to a massive government conspiracy that even President Cassidy would prefer not to expose. Bernau accurately paints recognizable characters jousting for political power, as well as the tiny domestic details that make up the private lives of such public figures. Sharp-edged cutting between these players and a host of dangerous, shadowy conspirators keeps the tension running high. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour. (October)