A review of the novel “To Kill The President”

Although I read the “Guardian” newspaper every day, I hadn’t realised that its political columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote political thrillers under the pseudonym Sam Bourne but, as I browsed in a bookshop, I read the blurb on the back of this novel and was seized by the ‘torn from the news headlines’ nature of the plot: a volatile demagogue who has just been elected to the Oval Office has ordered a nuclear strike on North Korea.

Of course, Bourne’s president is nameless but the ‘fictional’ commander-in-chief is so scarily recognisable that Donald Trump could probably sue for libel in a British court if he was not so busy up-ending every convention in the political playbook – including warning Pyongyang of American “fire and fury”.

Following this cracking opening scenario, the rest of the novel does not have quite the same sense of acute drama and the plot gradually becomes less credible, but it is a fast-paced story with some well-researched political, geographical and technological detail and the book is a genuine page-turner with teasing lines at the end of each of the short chapters.

And, instead of a male protagonist shooting his way through every obstacle, we have a female White House counsel, Irish-born Maggie Costello, who uses her intellect and insight to discover the awful truth.


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