cover image The Shot

The Shot

Philip Kerr. Atria Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-671-04140-3

Popular British author Kerr (A Five-Year Plan, etc.) skillfully weaves fictional intrigue and historical events in his new novel, a political thriller set in the early JFK years. At the center of the story is a Miami-based hit man who goes by the name of Tom Jefferson. He has been hired by mobster Sam Giancana and his Mafia buddies--who are eager to continue doing business in Havana--to kill Fidel Castro. But the plan hits a snag when, bragging about a deal the mob made with Joe Kennedy to provide Teamster support for his son's presidential campaign, somebody tells Tom about a tape that Giancana secretly made of JFK's trysts with Marilyn Monroe. Listening to the tape, Tom discovers that the woman in JFK's arms is not Monroe, but an eager JFK campaign worker named Mary Jefferson--Tom's wife. When Mary turns up dead, Tom disappears with the mob's cash to join rogue FBI agent Alex Goldman in devising a plan to shoot JFK in Harvard Yard. As Tom stalks JFK and the mob tracks Tom, Kerr produces enough double twists and triple crosses to keep even the savviest reader riveted. Although a surplus of period detail sometimes slows the novel's pace, Kerr's Cuba steams, his Vegas glitters and his New York buzzes in what is, overall, an engrossing and well-written conspiracy thriller. (Apr.)