cover image The Assassin

The Assassin

Andrew Britton. Kensington Publishing Corporation, $24 (506pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-1334-1

Britton's second contemporary political thriller (after 2006's The American) sets up an alternate reality that may distract some readers from a decent if unremarkable plot centering on terrorist plans to attack the U.N. and leave clues pointing to the Iranian government. Dennis Hastert is Speaker of the House, and the American political leadership is debating whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, but the U.S. president is not George W. Bush but David Brenneman, who's facing a fierce re-election opponent in California governor Richard Fiske, who's clearly not Arnold Schwarzenegger. The characters, including Jack Ryan-clone Ryan Kealey, are cookie-cutter, and the action-from the discovery of a high-ranking mole to the obligatory under-fire romance-offers nothing new. Britton has a long way to go before he joins the front rank of thriller writers.