The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 22, 2008

Book review: Sen. Kincaid returns in 'Capitol Conspiracy'

‘Capitol Conspiracy’

By William Bernhardt (compact disc audiobook)

Democratic Sen. Ben Kincaid of Oklahoma is back in Bernhardt’s latest political thriller.

The novel opens with the brutal torture of the chief of Homeland Security. It next switches to a ceremony honoring the dead from the Oklahoma City bombing at the Murrah Federal Building. The president, first lady and other high-ranking dignitaries are present. Security is tight. As the president approaches the podium, a shot is fired and more shots follow. Confusion ensues and Ben’s good friend Mike Morelli is critically injured in his attempt to save the president. The shots intended for the president claim 12 lives.

Terrorism is on the minds of everyone in this post-9/11 era. The president addresses the nation and proposes an amendment to the Constitution that might significantly restrict civil liberties. It could suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and make the Patriot Act look like child’s play with the new level of snooping it would allow.

The president asks Ben for help in garnering support for the controversial bill. Ben agrees but soon begins to doubt the terrorism theory when his wife, Christina, who is also his chief of staff, launches her own investigation. She discovers evidence that appears to point to Washington high-level connections to the shootings.

Bernhardt writes a fast-paced intense thriller with a suspenseful plot that contains conspiracy, scandal, murder, romance, and torture. Stephen Hoye’s narration is outstanding.

The novel is also available in regular print at the Joplin Public Library.

‘Death Was the Other Woman’

By Linda L. Richards (compact disc audiobook)

Los Angeles in the 1930s is the setting for this Prohibition and Depression-era mystery.

Kitty Pangborn’s privileged life changed dramatically when her father jumped to his death after the stock market crash. Kitty had attended private schools, where she became well-versed in all of the social graces, but she soon found she lacked the skills necessary for a job in the real world. Despite this fact, Dexter Theroux, a hard-drinking, tough-talking private investigator, hired Kitty as his secretary/receptionist/Girl Friday.

Wealthy Rita Hepplewaite sweeps into the office to hire Dex to keep an eye on her married lover. Rita is the mistress of Harrison Dempsey, one of L.A.’s richest and shadiest businessmen. Rita suspects Dempsey of stepping out on her and wants Dex to tail him. Kitty and Dex discover a body they believe to be Dempsey’s only for it to disappear. Kitty believes that there is more than just jealousy involved in this case.

The author has created an excellent period mystery. The memorable characters combine sharp dialogue and quick wit. “Death Was the Other Woman” is an entertaining and fun crime novel that kept me guessing to the end. As always, Joyce Bean’s narration provides excellent characterizations.

‘The Race’

By Richard North Patterson (compact disc audiobook)

Patterson’s political thriller introduces Corey Grace, a charismatic and handsome senator who is a Republican candidate in the presidential race.

Corey’s opponents are Bob Christy, an evangelical minister and Rob Marotta, a decent man manipulated by those around him.

Corey is conscientious, outspoken, honest and a Gulf War hero; however, he also carries some baggage. He is divorced and seldom sees his daughter. His gay younger brother who committed suicide idolized him. And more recently, Corey began dating an African American actress, Lexie Hart, who is also a Democrat fighting for stem-cell research.

Patterson shows us how politics plays out behind the scenes — the backstabbing, power grabbing and the backroom deals. “The Race” is a timely novel of political intrigue that shouldn’t be missed. Michael Boatman’s narration is terrific.

“The Race” is also available in regular print at the library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.