From Publishers Weekly
Plunging inexorably toward apocalypse, this expertly layered thriller by the author of The House of Pain darkly foreshadows the forthcoming 2000 presidential elections. Opening in Cuba in 1963, the narrative follows the parallel careers of Cobra, a young Rhodesian sharpshooter who is sent by Castro to Dallas to assassinate JFK, and Rupert Justice Tolliver, a young Texan on the same Dallas flight, who dreams of becoming president. After fulfilling his mission, Cobra ducks his pursuers by joining the U.S. Marines and is sent to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Tolliver enters divinity school to avoid the war and eventually capitalizes on his charisma as a radio/TV evangelist to become governor of Texas. Surviving Vietnam, Cobra returns to Rhodesia and buys a large farm. Over the years, he fights the elements and struggles to keep his land by hiring himself out as a hit man for high pay, all the while following with casual interest the adventures of the sly, Bible-spouting Texan who finally becomes the first U.S. president of the new millennium. Soon after Tolliver is sworn in, a young woman stumbles upon documentation of a shady land deal manipulated to funnel money to Tolliver and his campaign. Meanwhile, once Tolliver takes office, it becomes obvious that the Texan--convinced it is his destiny to fulfill the prophecy of the book of Revelations--is quite mad. With poetic symmetry, a secret group of powerbrokers hires Cobra to execute the ultimate sanction, and the thriller echoes Forsyth's Day of the Jackal as it approaches an adrenaline-charged finale. Though Leib's prose is only workmanlike, his juicy treatment of political chicanery, sexual promiscuity, media hijinks, international intrigue and atomic brinkmanship makes for a gripping read. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Smartly told thriller by Leib (The House of Pain, 1998) about a presidential assassination and the brilliance of the assassin hired to do the deed. We first meet Cobra, a South African, in the early `60s, preparing to assassinate Castrothough he shoots the cigar out of leaders mouth rather than kill him. Captured, he is sent to Washington to be the second shooter to the unknown primary one who will kill Kennedy in Dealey Plaza. From the grassy knoll, he sees the primary's round go through the president's throat, then he himself shots out Kennedy's brain, drops his Italian rifle down a manhole, and escapes. But his fake passport is too shoddy to get him out of the country, so he joins the Marine Corps and is sent to Vietnam as a top sniper. After two years he's taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese but eventually winds up in South Africa owning his own farm. Meanwhile, in the States, Rupert Justice Tolliver, a fundamentalist preacher whom Cobra met in Mexico City, is on his way to becoming presidentand his wife, Clarissa, makes sure he wins. When Tolliver is elected and world events lead him into a naval standoff with the Russians over Cuba (recalling Kennedy and Krushchev eyeball to eyeball), it's time to assassinate the President and get the world settled down again. So Cobra is hired once more, by whom he never knows. Despite its melodrama, strong on authenticity throughout, especially about the fine points of rifles and assassinations. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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