Deadly Politics: High-Stakes Political Thrillers
In the halls of power, the men and women protecting our freedom could sometimes use a little protection themselves--and in these heavy-hitting political thrillers, the imminent threats are legion: Brainwashing, deadly secrets, political assassination and submarines gone AWOL are just a few of the hurdles these characters face.
While nowadays the idea of brainwashing might seem quaint, evoking images of elaborate, octopus-shaped helmets and crazed evil scientists, there was a time when it was terrifyingly real. Published in 1959, Richard Condon’s novel imagines a scenario in which American soldiers are captured by the Chinese and reprogrammed into political assassins.
Losing your valuables
The Soviet super-submarine Red October is among the country’s most prized assets in the Cold War, and when it goes AWOL in the Atlantic, CIA operative Jack Ryan is convinced it’s trying to defect to “the good guys.” The ensuing 18-day search for the fleeing vessel has the world teetering at the edge of nuclear war.
Getting the facts straight
The narrator of this 2007 Robert Harris novel (which inspired Roman Polanski's movie starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor) has taken a new job as a ghostwriter for Adam Lang, the former British Prime Minister who stepped down amidst accusations of war crimes. Lang is now devoted to setting the record straight. But it’s a tricky record. The previous ghostwriter has mysteriously died and the new one must be careful what truths he uncovers, lest he become a ghost himself.
Crossing the wrong tycoon
It’s a sad day for justice when two Supreme Court judges are murdered on the same day. But what’s the connection? Liberal Justice Rosenberg and conservative Justice Jensen were on opposite sites of nearly every issue. But law student Darby Shaw discovers that they had one unlikely passion in common, one that gave them a common enemy.
Walking in at the wrong moment
All burglar Luther Whitney wanted to do was to break into a rich man's house and steal a bunch of his valuables. But when he does, he sees the rich man's wife fornicating with none other than the President of the United States. When the proceedings take a turn toward "Fifty Shades of Grey"-style kink, the Secret Service bursts in and kills the woman. Whitney flees, but not before the G-men see him and pin the woman’s murder on the hapless housebreaker.
A parent’s nightmare: your two teenaged children are kidnapped. But it’s even more complicated if you’re also the leader of the free world, and you’ve learned of an imminent terrorist threat to the nation’s water supply. Luckily for Patterson’s president, Detective Alex Cross is on the case. And he hasn’t been brought down yet in 17 previous novels.
Good old-fashioned assassination
Those poor fictional U.S. presidents, always faced with their own assassinations or the end of the world as we know it. Let’s get someone else in the hot seat, shall we? How about the French? Frederick Forsyth opens “The Day of the Jackal” with the real-life assassination attempt on President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s. Afterward, the government infiltrates the French terrorist organization responsible for the attempted killing. But the would-be assassins hire an outsider, a mysterious Brit codenamed “The Jackal.” Without a set name, identity or location, the Jackal is a hard man to find. Which is unfortunate for the president, the most visible target in the country.