The President's Henchman, by Joseph Flynn
Wow, what a ride. Fast-paced, suspenseful, witty, with great characters.
Jim McGill is a former cop who just happens to be married to the recently-elected first woman president of the United States. To keep himself busy, he opens up a P.I. business (much to the displeasure of his Secret Service guards). But soon enough, he finds out that life at the White House isn't all bunnies and rainbows.
There's a military sex scandal, a Cuban crisis, a mad scientist trying to work his way into the CIA with a technique for altering personalities, radical anti-abortionists, scheming Senators, and a threat against Jim's children from his first marriage. And it all comes together in one breathless, dangerous day. Yeah, there's a lot going on, but it's all interesting. Even the political stuff. I don't generally enjoy political storylines, but these are exciting and well-done, with real stakes that mean something to the characters.
Speaking of the politics, the book hits a fine balance, without falling too heavily into one camp or the other. The President is a moderate Republican, Jim is a moderate Democrat (a mixed marriage in the White House!). There are bad religious people and good religious people. There are bad people who are against abortion and good people who are against abortion. Good military people and bad military people. Good and bad people on all sides of the political spectrum.
The characters are all well-drawn, distinctive, and interesting, and most of them are likable, except for the ones you'll love to hate. But even those aren't just cardboard cutouts - Mr. Flynn portrays very well where they're coming from and what they want and why.
The book is written in a witty, engaging, down-to-earth style that tells the story at a quick pace that's hard to put down. I stayed up waaaay too late so I could finish the last 20% (and this is not a short book; it seems shorter than it is) and then I immediately downloaded the sample for the next book in the series.
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