CAPITAL OFFENSE, by Kathleen Antrim
Hey, you! Yes, you – in the dark blue suit, second row; the one who can’t stop looking down at your screen in hopes of finding a trailer for the next season of House of Cards. The one who binge-watched all of the previous seasons – twice – spellbound by the suspense and wondering all the while if you’d ever see one single honorable moment in the lives of Frank or Claire Underwood.
I’ve got bad and good news for you. The bad is that you probably won’t see any teaser trailers for the next season until at least January of 2017. The good is that Kathleen Antrim’s CAPITAL OFFENSE gives you another opportunity to be pulled into a story that chronicles the same kind of scheming, betrayals and outright charisma it probably takes to get the keys to the residential floors of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
That said, there are a few key differences. First, you’ll meet a lead character who becomes First Lady with every bit of the intelligence we’ve seen in Claire Underwood but with a moral center and likability that Claire certainly doesn’t have. Second, you’ll see many more murders. That’s what happens to the individuals (and in some cases their families) who threaten a carefully laid-out plan to get Missouri Senator Warner Hamilton Lane into the White House. The bad guys behind the plan are wealthy and extremely powerful political power brokers. Their assassin is a single woman who knows how to tinker with airplane engines and fashion bullets to be fired out of high caliber rifles that disappear on impact with the victim. The bodies pile up between chapters that artfully describe the deals and deceits that enable the plan for getting Lane into the White house to fall into place.
The story is a lot of fun for people who work in Washington – and probably for anyone involved in politics at any level, particularly if their experiences have led them to become more cynical about the “calling” to serve, or whatever. The audacity of the misdeeds will also be fodder to the millions of people who rage online about “conspiracies” that will put the next president into office (none of which have been proven and most of which are fed by the mentality that saying it makes it so). In fact, when the first edition of this book was published in 2005 tens of thousands of readers found it immensely entertaining but probably doubted any of it could actually happen.
No one will feel that way now, given what actually has happened. In fact, CAPITAL OFFENSE is an irresistible story for everyone who’s interested in both the substantive elements of political discourse in our country right now, and in the family dramas of the two most interesting candidates. And if you’re really into conspiracy theories you’ll love it even more.
What you’re likely to remember and appreciate in the long run though are the two protagonists, First Lady Carolyn Alden Lane and veteran journalist Jack Rudley. As a prosecutor driven by her need to protect innocent children and win the everlasting battle against illegal drugs, Carolyn enters the story in the place where she has the most power – the courtroom. She’s immediately appealing, and you know by a few pages on that she deserves so much better than the trap her husband and father in-law pull her into. Rudley is an investigative reporter accustomed to breaking big stories. He also has a very personal stake in Carolyn’s quest to expose the bad guys and right the scales of justice.
Through a strategic alliance they mount a thrilling effort to strike back at people who believe they simply can’t be taken down. Given the powerful forces they’re up against, you might doubt Carolyn and Jack can pull it off. What they actually achieve is even better and more surprising – the perfect wham-bam ending that shows how a combination of true investigative journalism and righteous political gamesmanship can ultimately bring honor back to the highest office in the nation.
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