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Woods introduces Will Lee, the brilliant and loyal chief aide to Washington's most influential senator. When the senator succumbs to a stroke, he asks Lee to run for office, and Lee is faced with scandal, rivals, and a white supremacist organization that would rather see him dead than in office.
Will Lee flashed his identification at the guard and nodded toward the car. "Can I park out front for just a few minutes? I've got to pick up some stuff from the office."
The guard came down the steps and walked around the Porsche -- not new, not clean -- and carefully inspected the parking sticker on the windshield. Taking his time, he walked back to where Will shivered. "Ten minutes," the man said. "No more."
Everybody in Washington loved power, Will reflected as he got out of the car and slammed the door. Not least, Capitol guards. Seven-thirty on a Saturday morning in December, Congress having recessed the day before, and the man was worried about traffic. Will raced into the Russell Building, under low, leaden skies, the cold nipping at his neck. He paused to sign in at the inside guard's desk, then entered the building, his steps echoing off the marble floor as he headed toward the elevators. In a hurry and almost without thinking, he did something he had never done before: he pushed the members' button, guaranteeing express service. He leaned against the paneling as the car rose, taking in a faint odor of varnish and cigars, and allowed himself a ten-second reverie: he was not an interloper in this car, but an elected member, leaving the press gathered at the elevator door as he rose to his suite of offices to take a phone call from a worried President. It made him laugh that he was no more immune to the lure of power than the building guard. The car eased to a stop, and Will walked quickly down the hallway to the office. To his surprise, the door swung open before he couldturn the key.
Will dismissed the thought of anything sinister; the cleaners must have forgotten to lock it. He strode quickly through the small reception area and past the staff desks that crowded the main room of the suite, then turned right past the Senator's closed door to his own small office. Even a senator's chief of staff did not rate much space in the crowded Russell Building. He had got behind his desk and was opening a drawer before he noticed the light coming from under the other door, the one that opened into his boss's room. Someone was in Benjamin Carr's office.
Will hesitated, then put aside his caution. He walked to the door and opened it, prepared to accost an intruder with righteous indignation, at the very least. His eye fell first on the collection of photographs of Ben Carr with each of the last nine Presidents of the United States, starting with an ill-looking Franklin Roosevelt, on the front porch of the Little White House, in Warm Springs, Georgia. Then his attention went to the figure hunched over the Senator's desk.
Ben Carr looked up, surprised. "What're you doing in here this time of day, boy?" he asked in his gravelly voice.
"Morning, Senator," Will replied, surprised himself. "I was on my way to the airport. I forgot something." He frowned. "What on earth are you doing in here at this hour on a Saturday?"
The Senator looked sly. "How do you know I'm not here every Saturday morning?" He waved a hand. "I know, I know, because you're here yourself. Naw, I'm here for the same reason as you. I've got a nine-o'clock plane to Atlanta; Jasper's waiting in the garage."
"How'd the physical go?" Will asked. He had not seen his boss for two days, since the Senator had spent Friday at Walter Reed Hospital.
"Sound as a -- yen," the Senator replied, chuckling at his own joke. "They say I'm fighting fit."
"Now is that a fact, sir?" Will asked. "You know I'll find out if it isn't." Ben Carr was seventy-eight, and he had been looking tired lately.
"Hell, you sure will," Carr laughed. "Can't keep a secret anymore in this town. Used to be, a member of Congress could keep a girl in Georgetown or screw a colleague's wife, and the press didn't write about it. Not anymore, though." He raised a calming hand. "Don't get worried, now; my blood pressure's up a little, that's all. They gave me some pills; I might even take 'em."
"You're sure that's all?"
"That's all. They tell me I'll live through another term. We'll announce right after Christmas, I think. We don't want the Republicans to have too much time to get excited, do we?"
Will grinned. "No, sir. We'll let 'em down early."
Ben Carr placed his palms on his desk and pushed himself to his feet. Tall, bald, a little stooped, he walked around the desk. "I'm glad you came by this morning, Will. Sit down for a minute; I want to talk to you."
Will took a seat at one end of the leather sofa, and the Senator arranged his lanky frame at the other end, drawing a knee up beside him.
"Will, we've never really talked about this -- I mean, right out in the open, but you want this job, don't you?"
"Not your job, sir," Will replied honestly.
"I know, I know," Carr said. "But you'd like Jim Barnett's seat next time, wouldn't you?" James J. Barnett was the lackluster Republican who had become the junior senator from Georgia two years before.
"Yes, sir, I think I would," Will said, grinning.
"Good, good," Carr said, slapping the back of the sofa. "You'll do it damned well, too."
"Thank you, sir. " Will tried to meet the Senator's gaze and failed. "I thought I'd...after you're reelected, of course, I thought I'd better go home and get some red mud on my shoes." It was Ben...Grass Roots. Copyright © by Stuart Woods. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted April 21, 2009
I have read all of the Stone Barrington books and all of the Holly Barker books and have loved them all. I had heard about Chiefs but had not read it; so I did and thus began my quest for Will Lee books. I'm working my way through them and while they are different they still are among the best reading material available. Did I mention Ed Eagle. Another must read.
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Posted June 11, 2013
This was really a very good book. It did not drag at all to me. What I dont understand are the reviews! This is one time I am glad I didnt read them first. Unless someone can explain them to me, I think BN should take them off. They dont seem to have ANYTHING to do with the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Posted January 9, 2009
When highly regarded Senator Ben Carr of Georgia suffers a debilitating stroke, his loyal chief of staff, Will Lee runs for the office. His opponent in the Democratic primary is the state¿s governor Mack Dean; if he wins that his most likely Republican foe is an extreme TV star fundamentalist.<BR/><BR/>However, Will places his personal campaigning on hold when Judge Boggs asks him to serve as a public defender on a hate crimes homicide case in Meriwether County where he grew up and his ma still lives in Delano. The case is a racially charged murder that could impact his election chances as his client is a white male accused of killing a black female. <BR/><BR/>Meanwhile a former cop hunts a vigilante group assassinating people involved in what they interpret as porn peddling gangland-style. This too impacts Will¿s chances of winning the election as the issues of soft on crime and pornography surface.<BR/><BR/>Each of the three prime threads is gripping and easily could have served as fully developed novellas in differing sub-genres: political, legal and investigative. However, the fun in this tale is how Stuart Woods cleverly interweaves the three seemingly diverse subplots into a cohesive exciting thriller. This reprint of a 1989 tale holds up nicely two decades later.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner
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Posted May 3, 2001
OMG this was the best book i ever read. grass and roots were truly and deeply in love. i recommend this to anyone who likes gardening adn everyone at chapin.
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Posted November 22, 2012
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Posted January 18, 2013
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