Alexander's mildly entertaining debut, a political thriller, gets off to a fast start, but suffers from imagination fatigue as it settles into a predictable course. Soon after Sen. Bobby Hart, a rising California Democrat, gets word that terrorists are planning to strike on American soil as the presidential race heats up, the killings, code-named "Rubicon," begin. The Democratic nominee falls victim to a suicide bomber in Los Angeles; the leading Republican suffers the same fate in Atlanta. Doggedly and almost single-handedly, Hart forages around until he figures out that Rubicon is not the work of Islamic extremists. Blatant similarities between the book's Republican administration and the current Bush administration may irk even hardcore Democrats, while a subplot involving Hart's emotionally fragile wife back in California verges on the silly. The story limps to the finish with a tedious courtroom scene. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Rubiconby Lawrence Alexander
It could Happen . . .
Bobby Hart, an idealistic young senator from California, thinks that he's escaped the political spotlight when he decides not to run for president. Then, on a secret mission to Germany, he discovers that there is going to be an assassination. He doesn't know who is the target, who is behind the plan, or where it/blockquote>/p>
It could Happen . . .
Bobby Hart, an idealistic young senator from California, thinks that he's escaped the political spotlight when he decides not to run for president. Then, on a secret mission to Germany, he discovers that there is going to be an assassination. He doesn't know who is the target, who is behind the plan, or where it will take place. All he knows is that it will happen before the election. And that it operates under the code name Rubicon.
Rubicon, Hart remembers, is the river Caesar crossed with his army when he decided to seize power in Rome. For Caesar it meant that there was no turning back for a republic on its way to becoming an empire. But crossing the Rubicon meant the beginning of an era in Rome. Could it mean the end of something else today?
As events pile up before the predicted attack, it becomes clear that Rubicon isn't just about the election. It's a plot to steal the country. Now Hart is in a race against time to find out who is behind the conspiracy and how to stop it before it's too late and democracy in America is changed forever.
A blistering indictment of our current political climate, Rubicon is an intelligent, action-packed thriller that will change the way readers think about the next election.
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Read an ExcerptRubicon
By Lawrence Alexander
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 Lawrence Alexander
All right reserved.
Bobby Hart sat in his office, remembering with a kind of rueful nostalgia the cool summer nights at home in Santa Barbara, walking on the beach with a sweater thrown over his shoulders, and the dark, wet sand clinging to his feet. Summer here, in the District, on the other hand, was an endless stay in hell, the heat stifling, breathless, the air heavy and oppressive. It followed you everywhere, the humidity thick and unrelenting, and the nights not much better than the days. It produced a constant, restless irritation, and with it a strange, perpetual suspicion, as if, with weather bad as this, it was hard to believe in anything except the evil side of human nature. He could not wait to get home.
His secretary knocked on the door, the way she did whenever there was something she knew he would want to know.
"Mr. Shoenfeld is on the line, Senator. I thought you might want to take it."
Dieter Shoenfeld was a man of importance, the publisher of one of Europe's most influential journals, and an old friend. He read everything, could talk about anything, and insisted in all seriousness that he knew nothing.
"I have to see you," said Shoenfeld. "There is something you should know."
Hart glanced out the window at the Washington traffic, barely moving on the street below.
"I've only got two hours before my flight; I don't see how—"
It was the strange intensity in Dieter Shoenfeld's voice that told Bobby Hart he was serious.
"Cancel it," repeated Shoenfeld. "Go tomorrow, if you still think you should. This is important, Bobby. I wouldn't ask if I didn't think—"
"Where? When?" asked Hart, reaching for a pen.
An hour later, Hart got out of a cab in Georgetown. He had been on the Senate floor or in committee meetings most of the day. Despite the sweltering heat and humidity he wanted a few minutes outside, where he could breathe, lost in the relative anonymity of a sidewalk crowd. He could not walk down a street in San Francisco or Los Angeles without everyone stopping to stare. Here, the looks were more subtle, more restrained; usually a quick, friendly glance, followed by a brief nod as someone who also worked in Washington passed by.
Two men in their early thirties, the age of ambition, were crossing from the opposite side, moving, even in this debilitating heat, with the brisk efficiency with which they had learned to do everything. With measured smiles, they acknowledged his importance, no doubt wondering, each of them, whether sometime in the future others might look the same way at them.
The restaurant where he was to meet Shoenfeld was crowded, the bar impassable, a sea of hot shining faces, everyone full of news. Shoenfeld stood waiting for him while Hart threaded his way through a maze of tables. He gave him a warm hug as he shook his hand.
"Bobby! It's so good to see you."
Shoenfeld's small eyes were surrounded by drooping lids and large, dark circles. His nose was rather heavy and the nostrils rather wide. His mouth, even when he was sitting still, listening to you speak, was in constant motion, as if he could not help but react with some interest, some enthusiasm, to everything he heard. "How are you, Dieter?" asked Hart as he sat down at the table. "And how is your lovely wife?" It brought a muted sparkle to Shoenfeld's solemn eyes.
"Very upset, my friend, very upset," he replied, full of soft mischief. His glance became more circumspect, and more serious. "She wanted you to run, you know. She thought you were the only one who could have changed things seriously for the better."
It was the mark of Hart's own unthinking confidence, and perhaps of his own ambition, that the question was, even with Dieter Shoenfeld, one he felt compelled to answer in purely political terms, or rather, not to answer at all, but to deflect with the easy modesty that said one thing and meant another.
"I doubt I could have won."
Shoenfeld studied him more carefully.
"You know what Napoleon told the general who asked how he should take Vienna? 'If you want to take Vienna, take Vienna.'"
Hart laughed and bent toward him.
"Is that what you think Napoleon told himself when he decided to invade Russia? 'If you want to take Moscow, take Moscow.'"
"Think what you could have done in those debates. All those cautious, carefully programmed, slow-thinking . . ." He shook his head, let the thought finish itself, and then bent forward on his elbows. "You were the one who insisted that the race was wide open, that people were looking for someone new. So why didn't you . . . ?"
For an instant, Hart wondered whether, despite all the difficulties that had stood in the way, he should have done it, taken the chance when the chance was there.
"People were looking for someone new. How long was this supposed to go on? The same two families running the country for nearly thirty years, trading the presidency as if they owned it and could loan it back and forth; the same dull faces, the same dull speeches, the same . . . But I couldn't have done it, even though I voted against the war. Prentice Alworth knew what he was doing. He let everything come to him. He could attack the administration and not have to defend anything he had done."
Forgetting for the moment that he was in Washington and not in some European restaurant, Shoenfeld reached inside his jacket for a pack of cigarettes.
"You don't mind," he remarked as he took one out and lit it. Staring straight ahead he took one drag, and then another. "Do you know where I spent my morning?" he asked, waving his hand to clear away the thin spiral of gray smoke. "With your distinguished secretary of state, along with two of my colleagues from the German press."
Excerpted from Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander Copyright © 2008 by Lawrence Alexander. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Lawrence Alexander was a Senate aide and has been involved in numerous political campaigns, both presidential and gubernatorial. He has taught at several universities and practiced law for a number of years. He lives in California.
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