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Those who enjoyed Huston's debut in the political-military thriller Balance of Power might take to this near-clone; others probably won't. Returning hero attorney Jim Dillon, top aide to Speaker of the House John Stanbridge, is at the forefront of two high-profile political trials. The first involves the court martial of one Admiral Ray Billings, accused of disobeying a direct presidential order (albeit while following a congressional order), resulting in the death of American troops. The second is the impeachment and Senate trial of President Edward Manchester, also familiar from Balance of Power and now charged with "pacificism" and subsequent dereliction of duty. The narrative is tautly written but mechanical, with few surprises. It begins with the terrorist kidnapping of the CEO (and his wife) of the world's largest American-owned gold mine, in West New Guinea, then segues into military maneuvers involving Navy SEALs. Dillon's role in defense of Billings at the admiral's trial leads to his appointment to the team prosecuting the president at the impeachment trial. Much of the legal manipulation at that trial depends on semantic technicalities and ingenious interpretations of the Constitution, leading to a grandstanding conclusion. In the midst of these wranglings and legal heroics, Dillon continues to pursue his personal relationship with attorney Molly Vaughan. Readers attuned to Huston's lockstep plotting ought to be able to guess the outcome, but they should be impressed anyway by the authenticity of the author's procedural details, apparently based on his experience as a lawyer, Top Gun graduate and former naval flight officer. The cartoonish characterization of the pacifist president, however, who more or less blames the U.S. for WWII, lacks credibility, and the hawkish politics that pervade the narrative may turn off some readers.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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ISBN-10:  0688159184
ISBN-13:  978-0688159184
Author:  James W. Huston
Publisher:  William Morrow
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review by . July 25, 1999
I'm still catching my breath. Two memoranda and a research project lay unfinished on my desk: I simply had to finish this book. Every character is sharply defined: the bile rises against the bad guys - and you want to cheer the good men and women on to victory. The plot is beautifully honed. Literally every word advances the story. The anti-climax at page 303 is powerful. I was immediately frightened that Huston couldn't keep the story going with the same force. Happily I was wrong: there are another …
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