cover image Keys to the Kingdom

Keys to the Kingdom

Bob Graham. Perseus/Vanguard, $25.99 (314p) ISBN 978-1-59315-660-2

Senator Graham's distinguished record of public service and unquestioned expertise on national security matters may not be tarnished by this subpar suspense novel, but it certainly won't be enhanced. In a fictional 2008, retired U.S. senator John Billington, Graham's alter ego, publishes a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times suggesting that the Saudis may be working on a nuclear weapon. Billington reaches out to brilliant, two-fisted Cuban-American Tony Ramos, an analyst at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to pursue his thesis. Soon after receiving death threats, Billington is killed by a hit-and-run driver while on a walk near his Florida home. The suspicious death leads Ramos on an international race against time to thwart an al-Qaeda mega-attack. Stilted language ("The approving smile and tilt of the head indicated the senator was intrigued with Tony's athletic grace and presence"), illogical developments, and gratuitous sex scenes add up to a book that makes Clancy look like le Carr%C3%A9. (June)