cover image The Art of the Devil

The Art of the Devil

John Altman. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8384-1

An unlikely group of conspirators target President Eisenhower in this solid what-if thriller from Altman (The Watchmen). In the fall of 1955, Ike is holed up in a retreat near Gettysburg, Pa., after a heart attack scare, but the chief of the Secret Service, Emil Spooner, is afraid that foul play was responsible for the president’s illness. Worried that another attempt may be made on Eisenhower’s life, and unsure whom he can trust, Spooner turns to disgraced agent Francis Isherwood, whose alcoholism led to his being placed on indefinite leave. A mole inside the Secret Service almost ends Isherwood’s mission before it can start, and the plotters manage to place someone else very close to Eisenhower. Altman succeeds in generating tension, despite the lack of surprise as to the outcome. Fast pacing and a clever plot compensate for less-than-deep characterizations and a few improbabilities. [em]Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Agency. (June) [/em]