What happens when a politically driven couple is faced with an ugly, potentially campaign-derailing problem? It gets “handled” and someone else takes the blame, even when it involves the death of a 19 year old girl.
Thomas Jefferson Carver is well on his way to becoming the next President of the United States. Supported by his “hellcat” wife Darla, who has ambitions of her own, he is an odd’s on favorite to win the election. The only problem is, Carver is a “total, womanizing hound,” which is okay with Mrs. Carver as long as it doesn’t affect their political prospects. Darla Carver, you see, plans to become President after her husband, and won’t let anything get in her way.
The death of Abby Connolly in Carver’s hotel room is the first domino in a long progression of lies, betrayals, and death leading to a Carver White House. Both Carvers get what they want, but secrets never stay secret and they soon find everything falling apart, thanks to lawyer Marc Kadella, who defends the young man who becomes the fallguy accused of Connolly’s murder.
Carstens has written a tightly plotted legal thriller on par with Grisham and Turow. His experience as a trial lawyer lends credibility to the descriptions of the crimes and actions of both the good guys and the bad guys. Technically, his writing is skilled and well-paced, with great character development. Successful character development is at play when an author makes me actively dislike a character before chapter 3, and that definitely happened here.
Although there is the usual disclaimer at the beginning that this is a work of fiction, I would be remiss if I didn’t speculate that the Carvers *may* have been based on the Clintons, or at least on aspects of them. That may put some people off this book, but if you are the kind of reader who can totally suspend your disbelief despite your politics, I think you will enjoy this book. Recommended.