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The Machiavelli Covenant
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Nicholas Marten, the ex-LAPD detective who played a major role in Folsom's The Exile (2004), pursues an international conspiracy in this frenetic page-turner long on action but short on plausibility. When an old love of Marten's, Caroline Parsons, dies of a mysterious infection shortly after her congressman husband and son perish in a plane accident, her dying words set Marten on the trail of a South African bioterrorist. The former cop soon finds himself allied with another man trying to foil a cabal bent on creating a new world order-the U.S. president himself, John Henry Harris. Harris flees his Secret Service protection after rejecting the plan of virtually his whole cabinet to assassinate the leaders of France and Germany and replace them with people willing to launch biological warfare on most of the Middle East. Unconvincing hairbreadth escapes and the failure to explore underlying political issues make for a routine thriller. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

At least seven men in the U.S. president's cabinet are members of a cabal, which turns out to be a coven with at least 200 "major world players" who take part in annual ritual sacrifices. They want to assassinate the leaders of France and Germany, then launch a biological war against Muslim states. Why? Because the two European powers failed to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the cabal fears that jihadists might strike Saudi Arabia "one night." If they did, "In less than thirty-six hoursArabia would fall, then Kuwait, then Iraq and Iran, Syria and probably Jordan." The flow of oil to the West would stop, "just like that." Learning this, the president goes on the run. Fortunately, he has his toupee with him. Add to Folsom's (The Exile) brew an assassin who plans to kill three presidents with a single shot, a female photojournalist who learns that 27 other women in her family have been sacrificial victims, andenough. As the president says, the situation "borders on the impossible if not the absurd," though he later claims this is "not fiction"; this is "real." Some thrillers are so gripping that one forgives bad writing; this novel-clich?d, repetitive, melodramatic, filled with insipid prose and mistranslations of foreign languages-is not one of them. Emphatically not recommended.-Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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