Sometimes I drink water... just to surprise my liver.

Sometimes I drink water... just to surprise my liver.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Meeting your fate

Fate of the Union, the second in Max Allan Collins' series of political thrillers (Supreme Justice was the first) featuring security consultant Joe Reeder and FBI agent Patti Rogers, was- no surprise- the usual, fast, fun Collins reading experience. Written with longtime assistant and occasional collaborator Matthew V. Clemens, this one involves a series of contract killing-style murders in the Washington, D.C. area, a terrorist plot employing a new super-weapon, and slowly emerging clues that the two things might be related.

As Patti Rogers, her FBI team, and Reeder (who is once again called in to help unravel the cases) look into things, there is a side plot about a possible third-party political candidate who is gaining traction with the masses. Is the folksy, plain-speaking billionaire, who has been successfully courting Americans tired of all the far-left and far-right rhetoric of the traditional parties' candidates, somehow connected to everything going on?  An assassination attempt during one of his speeches, thwarted by Reeder and Rogers, seems to point to that.

If I find Fate of the Union to be reliably entertaining but not top-tier Collins, it's only because of my personal taste: I often find thrillers driven by law-enforcement types (especially the Feds) and self-important politicians (even if they pretend to be modest) to be a bit ponderous.  Give me a flawed, semi-reformed hit man as a protagonist any day.  But, again, that's just me, not a flaw of this book.  The last FBI character I truly liked was Fox Mulder, because his bosses hid him in the basement and thought he was crazy.

Okay, maybe I do have one issue with this story: I would have liked more sleight of hand in the eventual revelation of the ultimate villain of the piece. Without saying too much, the person I thought was behind everything turned out to indeed be behind everything.  And I'm not particularly brilliant when it comes to unraveling whodunits.  I was a little disappointed when the rug wasn't pulled out from under me and a truly surprising culprit wasn't in the end revealed.  Also, the culprit's final fate was the kind of thing seen many times before in books and movies featuring this type of story.

But, really, those are quibbles.  I picked this book up, shot through it quickly, and was entertained.  So, yeah, give Fate of the Union a whirl if you enjoy political thrillers of this ilk.  But, even though (despite the  subjective views I outlined earlier) I do kind of like Joe Reeder and Patti Rogers, I think I'm ready for a adventure involving one of Mr. Collins' heroes on the fringe, like Quarry or Nate Heller.  You know, guys who either avoid law enforcement or work only grudgingly with them. Just call me a rebel.

Fate of the Union is readily available in print and on your Kindle.

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