Readers of Krueger's Cork O'Connor mystery series (Iron Lake; Boundary Waters; etc.) will have to postpone the pleasures of the much-anticipated fourth volume, but the wait will be well spent with this fast-paced stand-alone political thriller. President Clay Dixon, campaigning for reelection, is falling behind in the polls. Worse, the popular first lady, Kate Jorgenson Dixon, disappointed by Clay's lost idealism, resolves to abandon their marriage-a disaster for his faltering campaign, not to mention his emotional stability. Kate flies back to her native rural Minnesota when she hears that her father, ex-senator Tom Jorgenson, has suffered a farming accident that has nearly killed him. The police declare it an unfortunate mishap, but it isn't-an escaped mental patient has initiated a long-planned vendetta that includes not only Tom but Kate as well. Chilling, mesmerizing lunatic David "Nightmare" Moses, who was once in love with Kate, steals the page each time he makes an appearance. Secret Service agent Bo Thorsen, who protects the first lady, contends with Moses as well as with backstabbing colleagues, scheming Washington politicians and minions of a sinister, secret government agency that appears to have some tie to Moses. Occasional clunky writing and an over-the-top patriotic coda mar the novel, but this will hardly matter to most readers. Nonstop action, abundant romantic complications and a wealth of mayhem keep Krueger's plot speeding toward its suspenseful, blood-soaked climax. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
In his latest thriller, Krueger (Purgatory Ridge) offers an intriguing premise, but the execution is pedestrian. President Clay Dixon is running for reelection and is currently behind in the polls. His wife, Kate, is contemplating leaving him, which would essentially end any hopes of a second term. When Kate's father is injured in what appears to be an accident, she rushes to his bedside. This accident, however, is just the first step in an elaborate scheme to kill her and her father. The mastermind is an escaped mental patient named David Moses, who was in love with Kate when they were younger. Assigned to protect Kate, Secret Service agent Bo Thorson is on to Moses and in his race to stop him stumbles onto an even bigger conspiracy that could cost him his career-and his life. While this novel is compelling enough to finish, all of the situations and plot twists are cliches; it doesn't even offer an insightful look into the Secret Service. Chalk this up as average; for larger fiction collections.-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Above-average suspenser about a stand-up Secret Service agent who falls for FLOTUS.
First Lady of the United States, that is, in case your Beltway Buzz-worder hasn't been updated recently: in this case, the beautiful, bright, terribly troubled Kathleen Jorgenson Dixon. The thing is that Kate's lost confidence in her husband. Clay Dixon, former pro-football star, came to the presidency imbued with a heroic sense of mission too soon squandered by the exigencies of practical politics. Kate deplores this, considers it a form of betrayal, insists to Clay that he's surrounded himself with egregious opportunists, not the least of whom is his own unprincipled father, the sinister senior senator from Colorado. So serious is the rift between FLOTUS and POTUS that Kate has moved from the connubial quarters to the Lincoln Bedroom. "I used to sleep in a great man's bed," she tells Clay bitterly. "I want to remember what that was like." Then suddenly, back in Minnesota, Kate's father suffers a mysterious accident. Or was it? Secret Service Agent Bo Thorsen-brave, resourceful, smitten-doesn't think so. He's become convinced that Kate's been lured home because someone-a diabolically clever and unequivocally lethal someone-wants her more accessible: it's a trap, in other words. No one believes him, except Kate, who trusts him on sight and whose feeling for him no doubt transcends what is seemly, though both behave with admirable and honorable restraint. So who wants to murder an extremely popular First Lady? Is she the target of highly placed conspirators, seeking to forestall, at any cost, the negative impact of a divorced president? Or is the villain a more personal bête noire, a nightmarish figureout of Kate's own long-ago, not a whit less deadly for being half-forgotten?
Krueger, author of the Cork O'Connor mystery series (Purgatory Ridge, 2001, etc.), keeps his complex plot chugging along on track until an overwrought and overlong last act derails it.
From the Publisher
Edgar Award-winning author T. Jefferson Parker Krueger not only tells a cracking good suspense story, but he tells it with deep insight. He understands the eternal battles that draw good people into bad deeds. He understands heartbreak and hope. He understands violence and gentleness.
The Denver Post [Krueger] pulls the reader in on the first page and holds him fast until the satisfyingly correct wrap-up on the last.
Otto Penzler Krueger writes the kind of novels mystery lovers love to read: well written, both character- and plot-driven, with tense scenes and surprise endings.
Edgar Award-winning author Steve Hamilton When you read a William Kent Krueger book, you're taken back to a place so real it's like home, with characters so close to you they feel like family....[He's] so good I want to kill him.
Read an Excerpt
Nightmare used a combat knife, a Busse Steel Heart E with a seven-and-a-half-inch blade. He made two cuts, a long arc that half-circled his nipple, then another arc beneath the first, smaller but carved with equal care. The effect was a rainbow with only two bands and a single color. When he lifted the blade, he could feel the blood on his chest, black worms crawling down his skin in the dark of his motel room.
From the warehouse across the old highway came the long hiss of air brakes and the rattle of heavy suspension as a rig and trailer pulled out onto the potholed asphalt and geared away into the evening. There was an air-conditioning unit under the window, but Nightmare never used it. Even in the worst heat, he preferred to keep the drapes pulled and the windows open in order to track the sounds outside his room.
In the dark, he reached to a wooden bowl on the stand beside the bed. He filled his hand with ash from the bowl, and he rubbed the ash into the wounds to raise and set them. It was painful, this ritual, but pain was part of who he was, part of being Nightmare. He performed the ritual in the dark because that was also elemental to his being. He loved the dark, as a man will love anything that has taken him into itself and made him a part of it.
It was past time, he knew, but there was no hurry. He put on his sunglasses, then took the remote from beside the bowl on the stand and turned on the television. The set was old, and the signal flowed through a faulty connection. The picture bloomed, vibrated, then settled down.
Barbara Walters was on the screen. She sat in a wing chair upholstered in a red floral design. She wore a blue dress, a gold scarf draped over her left shoulder, pinned with a sapphire brooch. From a portrait above the mantel beyond her right shoulder, George Washington seemed to look down on her sternly. The broadcast was live from the Library of the White House. Barbara leaned forward, her face a study of deep concentration as she listened. She nodded, then she spoke, but soundlessly because Nightmare had muted the volume to nothing. Finally she smiled, totally unaware that on the television screen, dead center on her forehead, was a red dot from the laser sight on Nightmare's Beretta.
A different camera angle. The eyes of the man whose face now filled the screen were like two copper pennies, solid and dependable. Every hair of his reddish brown mane was under perfect control. He wore a beautifully tailored blue suit, a crisp white shirt, a red tie knotted in a tight Windsor and dimpled in a way that mirrored the dimple in his chin. Daniel Clay Dixon, president of the United States, faced the camera and the nation. When his lips moved, Nightmare could imagine that voice, the soft accent that whispered from the western plains, not so pronounced that it might prejudice a listener into thinking of an ignorant cowpoke, but enough to suggest a common man, a man of the people, the kind of man whose example encouraged children to believe they could grow up to be anything they wanted, that nothing in this great land of opportunity was beyond anyone's reach.
Nightmare had no interest in the words the silent voice spoke. They would be lies, he knew. Anyone who rose to the top in a government always rose on a bubble inflated by lies. He concentrated on keeping the red laser dot steady on the black pupil of the president's left eye.
After Clay Dixon talked awhile, he glanced at something to his right, off-camera at the moment, but obviously of tremendous importance to him.
And then it happened. What Nightmare had been patiently waiting for all week, had been considering in almost every moment of his thinking.
The First Lady appeared.
In the soft dark, Nightmare wrapped himself around a hard vengeance.
Kathleen Jorgenson Dixon's eyes were pale gray-blue. Although she looked composed, there was something immeasurably sad about those eyes. To Nightmare they seemed like two unhealed wounds. She'd been hurt, he could tell. But that didn't matter. Her suffering was nothing compared to the suffering she'd caused. He was glad for the ritual of the blood and the ash and the pain, because it kept him strong.
"For the murder of David Moses," Nightmare pronounced, "your sentence is death."
He sighted the Beretta. The laser dot settled in the dark at the back of the First Lady's throat. Slowly he squeezed the trigger, and grimly he whispered, "Bang."
Copyright © 2003 by William Kent Krueger