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Capitol Conspiracy: A Novel of Suspense Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Bernhardt's improbable 16th political thriller to feature Ben Kincaid (after 2007's Capitol Threat), President Franklin Blake survives an audacious terrorist attack at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, but the first lady does not. Kincaid, the junior Democratic senator from Oklahoma, finds himself backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would place vast emergency powers in the hands of a few men and allow for the suspension of most civil liberties. Kincaid's new wife and chief of staff, Christina, works to identify those behind the new Oklahoma City outrage, a group that may include that genre staple, the corrupt insider. Besides getting details wrong (the Department of Homeland Security is led by a secretary, not a director), the author fails to give the Kincaids worthy adversaries (two Secret Service agents posing as lobbyists try to intimidate Christina with compromising photos of her husband, but one of them forgets to remove his Secret Service lapel pin). Some readers may regard this effort as an unhappy melding of Mr. Smith Goes to Washingtonand the Patriot Act. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for William Bernhardt

Capitol Threat

“Plot twists, sly wit and political intrigue make this book exciting reading.”
–Tucson Citizen

“The murderer turns out to be about the last person you’d suspect.”
–Wisconsin State Journal

Capitol Murder

“A white-knuckle page-turner . . . Don’t start this book when you have something important to do.”
–The Oklahoman

“Political infighting and backstabbing, Kincaid faces it all.”
–New York Daily News

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345487575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345487575
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I love my job. Even on the worst day when I can't seem to put together a coherent sentence, I am grateful for having been given this magnificent opportunity to participate in the literary exchange of ideas. My mother says I was telling people I wanted to be a writer when I was seven. I know that seems incredible, but she's my mom, so we have to believe her. I never missed an opportunity to visit the library, which was blissfully near my home, and the librarians there took a great interest in this nerdy, shy, bespectacled kid who kept reappearing almost every day. They encouraged me to read widely and to read the best of everything, and that is exactly what I did and have continued to do all my life.

I sent off my first submission when I was eleven, to Highlights Magazine. This was a poem of which I was particularly proud concerning the Oklahoma Land Run. They turned me down. Yes, that was my first rejection letter. Over the next twenty years, I collected over 400 more of them. No, I'm not exaggerating. I still have them. Every last one. There was a reason, I realize now, why all those compositions were being rejected. They weren't very good. But they improved over time. I didn't know it, but during the entire torturous process of submission and rejection, I was learning how to write.

My first novel was published when I was thirty-one. To some, this may seem an early age to publish, but if you clock it from my first rejection, it took twenty years. That was a great year--my first son, Harry, was born in August, and my first book, Primary Justice, was born in December. The book surprised everyone and the follow-up did even better and before I even realized it I had accomplished my goal--I was a real honest-to-gosh writer. I've been writing ever since. I've written more than twenty novels, edited two anthologies, done two books for children, and published numerous stories, essays, puzzles, and poems. I have three children now, and this job allows me to be present when they come home from school and available when they need me during the day, which is a blessing I could not have anticipated back when I was a seven-year old gazing dreamily at author photos on dust jackets, wishing I could see myself there.

My goals for the future are to continue to learn, to grow, to find new ways of doing my work and doing it better. I've learned that I enjoy teaching, which led to the The Fundamentals of Fiction DVDs, the Red Sneaker Writers book series, and many speaking and teaching engagements throughout the year. My interest in mentoring aspiring writers led me to start the small-group seminars, which allow me to teach my favorite subject all across the nation. I'm very excited about the future--my personal life with my extraordinary family, and my professional life, creating new stories for you wonderful people who still understand the importance of storytelling and the written word.
William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including The Game Master, Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness (currently being adapted for an NBC miniseries), and the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series of legal thrillers. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center in 2005, hosting writing workshops and small-group seminars and becoming one of the most in-demand writing instructors in the nation. His programs have educated many authors now published at major New York houses. He holds a Masters Degree in English Literature and is the only writer to have received both the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (University of Pennsylvania) and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (Oklahoma State), which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." In addition to the novels, he has written plays, including a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction books, children books, and crossword puzzles. He also has published many poems and is a member of the American Academy of Poets.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick R. Raley on March 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With all that is happening in the world around us, the plot of this book is not too far-fetched. It is easily believable that the President and others in political office could be attacked for the stances they have taken. Bernhardt invites the reader to ask themselves how far we should all go in order to protect our freedoms. Is it worth giving them up to speed the process of prosecution or should we never mess with the basic doctrine of the constitution?

A political web is spun around this story as you follow Senator Kincaid. As usual he finds himself in the middle of the controversy. And once again Ben goes against the grain. But this time he goes against everyone dear to him.

For those who love the storylines involving the other characters besides Kincaid, you may be disappointed. This book focuses mainly on the Senator as he attempts to forge the nation's ideals in a time of tragedy.

Don't let that dissuade you; this is definitely worth the read. Bernhardt fills the story with his flair for twists. You'll enjoy the ending. Moreover you'll wonder how you would have voted on the proposed Constitutional Amendment. After all it may be closer to your future than you think.

PATRICK RALEY is the author of the mystery, detective novel entitled "Precedent of Justice". Find out why Publisher's Weekly calls him "the next John Grisham."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By a centrist on March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
You will LOVE this book if you:
1. believe that only liberals are good and all conservatives are evil
2. like to read at length about sadistic torture scenes
3. like to read at length about graphically sleazy sexual exploits
4. believe that conservatives will stop at nothing to get power
5. believe that conservatives want to take away our bill of rights to become dictators
6. think that James Patterson books are great because it's fun to watch the hero do stupid things and still survive
7. aren't bothered by flaws in the details as long as all of the above are present.

If this is not you, you will be bothered by the blatant political stereotyping and the obvious pandering to liberal ideology. If you decide to read it anyway, you will be saddened to read the reviews of the folks who gave this book five stars but you'll come away with a better understanding of just how deep our problem of political polarization has become. What possible hope for bipartisanship in resolving our problems can we possibly have with propaganda like this earning rave reviews from readers?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The head of Homeland Security is missing and a Senator has been killed with ricin poisoning - and his last words were: "Oklahoma City."

Meanwhile, on the anniversary of the bombing, tragedy has once again struck Oklahoma City. At a memorial service, shots are fired and the First Lady is killed along with several Senators and Secret Service men. Now, only four days after the shooting, the President is pressuring the remaining Senator from Oklahoma to support a bill that repeals the Bill of Rights in a time of national emergency. This amendment, if passed, would in effect put total control of civil rights into the hands of a Security Council headed by one person.

Ben Kincaid, the junior Senator from Oklahoma, was at the scene during the attack and his best friend now lays in a coma after saving Ben's life and that of the President. With that as his driving force, Ben agrees to support the amendment, however, his chief of staff (who is also his wife) is dead set against this proposed bill. As opposing factors to the amendment line up for battle, not everyone is convinced the attack was by foreign terrorists working alone. There are too many things pointing to help from an inside source - someone inside the government.

While Ben is making speeches and appearing before committees promoting the amendment, his wife Christine, begins her own investigation into this latest attack at Oklahoma City. Emotions and suspicious are tossed out like nets and every government agency has its own agenda in the investigations and in the outcome of the President's proposed amendment.

The story takes you from the glitz and glitter of Washington elite to the darkest and dirtiest side of the nation's Capitol: blackmail, adultery, murder and children sold for sex.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on February 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Too bad Jimmy Stewart isn't around anymore. The character, Ben Kincaid, is a role that was made for him. In fact, he already played it in Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington. Kincaid is a young attorney with a very unsubstantial practice in Tulsa, suddenly catapulted to the nation's Capitol as an appointed Senator. As the junior Senator from the Great State of Oklahoma, no one pays much attention to him, but he has a way of getting into major situations.

At a major Presidential appearance commemorating the Oklahoma City Massacre, sniper fire kills the First Lady. Ben, of course, is present alongside the President, along with his best friend who saves their lives from a bomb underneath the Presidential limousine, but is hit by the explosion and remains comatose. The resulting furor results in the President proposing an Amendment permitting a six-person council to suspend various portions of the Bill of Rights in cases of "emergency."

The President, a Republican, asks Ben, a Democrat, to spearhead the effort to secure passage in the Senate. The House bill is a shoo-in, and given the high emotions extant, the public more than favors the measure. Various subplots play a role in moving the story forward. Will the forces of evil prevail, and the traditions and freedoms ensured by the Constitution be trampled on? Will Ben's friend survive? Will his new marriage overcome the split in the couples' opposing stance on the proposal? And so on.

"Capitol Conspiracy" is clever and entertaining, but unfortunately in pulling the various elements together, it almost becomes a potboiler. This is really too bad, because I rather enjoyed it until that point, despite the oversimplifications and somewhat wooden portrayals of many of the characters--but I suppose such descriptions are appropriate.
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