The Presidential Archives

Overview

It is early 1996. In the U.S. presidential primary campaign the leading Republican contender, Hal Reynolds, looks like everyone's dream candidate: good-looking, charming, a brilliant military record, and a distinguished history of public service. Polls show him gaining easy nomination and winning the election in a walk. Yet, as the novel opens, hints of scandal surface, not in the U.S. but in Moscow, where Cass, Reynolds's niece, is doing research in the Soviet Archives. Cass gets access to a tape suggesting that...
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Overview

It is early 1996. In the U.S. presidential primary campaign the leading Republican contender, Hal Reynolds, looks like everyone's dream candidate: good-looking, charming, a brilliant military record, and a distinguished history of public service. Polls show him gaining easy nomination and winning the election in a walk. Yet, as the novel opens, hints of scandal surface, not in the U.S. but in Moscow, where Cass, Reynolds's niece, is doing research in the Soviet Archives. Cass gets access to a tape suggesting that at the end of the Cold War, the KGB had an agent, code name Oracle, in the highest reaches of the U.S. government. If the tape is genuine, Oracle, once thought to have been unmasked and caught in Brussels in 1984, may in truth be her uncle. The novel recounts Cass's search for the truth, a journey that takes her on a perilous tour of the dark side of present-day Moscow and finally to a Washington, D.C. courtroom, where political and personal history intertwine. In resolving the issue of her uncle's candidacy, Cass is forced to confront the ghosts of her family's past.

Cass discovers a dangerous secret: A U.S presidential candidate (her uncle) may have been a Soviet spy. The search for the truth takes Cass from mysterious Moscow to intriguing Washington, D.C. and her family's past, where secrets abound.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Secrets abound in this intelligent, tightly focused espionage thriller from Griffiths (The Last Spy), and the tension escalates when those secrets test the bonds of family and friendship for young scholar Cassandra Wolfe and her father, Nick, a CIA-agent-turned-journalist. Cass, in Moscow, has surreptitiously been offered evidence that implicates her uncle Nick's brother-in-law, Republican presidential candidate Hal Reynolds, as a highly placed Soviet agent code-named Oracle. Is the evidence authentic? Or is it part of an elaborate sting designed to undermine Reynolds's candidacy? According to Nick, Oracle was discovered and removed from Reynolds's staff in Brussels in 1984. But Brussels also saw the end of Nick's friendship with Reynold, over a woman who may have been Reynolds's mistress, as well as the suicide of Cass's mother. Focusing on the intimate acts of suspicion and betrayal behind these events, Griffiths uses the personal relationships of his main characters to ground a larger story of international betrayal. Although structured as a thriller, this is above all a study in character, where the back-and-forth struggle between Nick and Cass to trust each other as father and daughter mirrors their attempts to decipher tantalizing clues aimed at undermining their trust of Reynolds. Among the ambiguities stands one certainty, however: that Griffiths can be relied on to deliver on his intriguing premise with clarity, smarts and emotional clout. (Aug.)
Library Journal
What would you do if you found out that your favorite uncle, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election, might also be a Russian spy? Cassandra Wolfe, a graduate student studying in Moscow, is stunned when she hears a tape that "proves" her uncle, distinguished in public service for many years and now the Republican candidate, is really a KGB agent. She turns to her father, a former CIA agent, for advice and is again stunned to learn that he has had those same suspicions for many years. Cass searches for the truth in Moscow, but people involved in her inquiries start getting killed, and Cass no longer knows whom she can trust. Only after returning home does she uncover the dark secrets that explain her family's involvement with Russian politics. Griffiths (The Last Spy, LJ 9/1/92) has created another exciting thriller that will keep pages turning. Recommended.Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
Could the man most likely to be the next US president be a former KGB spy? Such an unlikely premise sets off a race to the truth that pits American father against Russophile daughter, spies against spies, and Soviet mobsters against Washington lawyers in this dialogue-soggy espionage tale from Griffiths (The Last Spy, 1992, etc.).

Watch out for those wild Russian parties, especially if you're American, tall, blond, beautiful, and the niece of the great Republican hope for the White House. Taking a break from researching her Ph.D. thesis in Moscow, Cassandra Wolfe meets a sleazy chess-playing Russian pimp who offers to sell her a tape recording from the Soviet presidential archives—a tape suggesting that Gorbachev and his cronies knew of a KGB spy, an "authoritative source with access at the highest level" of the US government, code-named Oracle. Other hazy elements suggest that Oracle was not the minor American diplomat unmasked by Wolfe's father, Nick, a former spy, but instead the presidential candidate Hal Reynolds, who also happens to be Nick Wolfe's brother-in-law. Cassandra, estranged from her father, troubled by memories of the apparently coincidental suicides of her mother and a sultry Russian sexpot who may have been Reynolds's mistress, is suddenly accused of the pimp's murder. Nick flies in, and the two spend a hundred pages talking about family, politics, spying, and how lousy a father Nick has been. They end up being pursued by Russian cops and mobsters, and arrive in America with the dead pimp's laptop computer just in time to help fight a lawsuit, based on a transcript of the tape, aimed at ruining candidate Reynolds before the November election. Father and daughter reconcile while exposing a conspiracy of Russian mobsters, political consultants, and Nashville recording engineers.

An overly chatty postCold War thriller with a truly dysfunctional family at its improbable core.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786703166
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/30/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.25 (d)

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