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Purple Dots: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jim Lehrer
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Washington, D.C., is a town full of powerful people with powerful, often conflicting agendas, and no one knows this better than Jim Lehrer, the preeminent capital newscaster and novelist. His new book is a witty, provocative political mystery about power play and favor swapping at the highest levels of government, written with his own unique blend of political savvy and irreverent humor.
Joshua Bennett has just been nominated by the president to be the new director of the CIA. He's the ideal candidate, and everyone agrees his confirmation hearing should be a mere formality. But this is Washington, where nothing as straightforward as choosing the most qualified person for a crucial job can be counted upon. Unfortunately for Bennett, someone's political agenda hinges on his confirmation being vetoed, but he's damned if he can find out whose. In need of good covert help he can trust, Bennett turns to a little known but highly efficient cadre of former CIA spies living in semiretirement in nearby West Virginia. This odd team of sixty-plus-year-old spooks, boasting a combined array of exceptional if eccentric and largely illegal talents, embarks upon a wildly unorthodox Washington power struggle that is no less earnest for being conducted in absolute secrecy. And most secret of all is the highly coveted purple dot--the ultimate national perk.
Following the enormous breakout success of Lehrer's bestselling previous novel, White Widow, Purple Dots will fascinate and amuse even more readers, while confirming their worst fears about how our government really operates.

Editorial Reviews Review

Charlie Henderson's favorite poet is Po Chu-i, a 9th-century Chinese who wrote, when he hit 60, "I have put behind me Love and Greed. I have done with Profit and Fame. I am still short of illness and decay and far from decrepit age." But Mary Jane, Charlie's wife, "sometimes saw Charlie's fondness for the words less a belief in a poetic creed than as proof that he had simply moved into his second childhood. Charlie claimed he had been lucky enough never to have had to end his first, having gone directly from high school to college to the U.S. Navy and then to the Central Intelligence Agency without missing a beat or being forced to do anything other than little-boy work." Charlie now helps his wife run a small, upscale West Virginia hotel where for $450 a night guests get to eat turtle soup amontillado and hear about how George Washington once had a meal in the same room. He's also one of the two narrators of veteran PBS newsman Jim Lehrer's sly and satisfying new political thriller. The other is a much tougher and more ambitious young Republican senatorial assistant named Marty Madigan, who works for a New Mexico conservative bent on keeping Henderson's best friend Josh Bennett from becoming the new CIA director.

Lehrer mostly plays fair with both sides, poking fun at Washington/Langley treats and privileges--such as the purple dots on license plates, which warn off police tow trucks. But you might come away thinking he's more sympathetic to Charlie and his gang of past and present spooks, who cluster in the lovely country towns around Washington and run antique toy stores or restore old dairy trucks while hatching plans to make sure Bennett gets the top job. Purple Dots is a richly detailed, highly amusing, and even occasionally suspenseful story from the author of Crown Oklahoma, Kick the Can, The Sooner Spy, and White Widow. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

PBS newsman and veteran novelist Lehrer (White Widow) neatly interweaves ruthlessness, hypocrisy and CIA intrigue in this disarming political thriller. Ex-CIA operative Charlie Henderson comes out of retirement to clear the name of his friend and fellow spy Josh Bennett, whose nomination for CIA chief has Republican Senator Marty Madigan frantically digging for dirt. It seems Madigan is following orders from Senator Lank Simmons of New Mexico, who is being blackmailed, in turn, by a Texas senator who has New Mexico's water supply under his thumb and happens to back a certain undesirable candidate for the Supreme Court. Lehrer gains satirical mileage by narrating the same events from the viewpoints of both Charlie and Marty. Although Marty comes off as a slick, aggressive opportunist in Charlie's version, he earns the reader's sympathy in his own account as a young, ambitious politician caught in a complicated power struggle between his self-interested superiors. As the opponents wrestle their way toward a gratifying resolution, Lehrer deftly exposes duplicity and pettiness on both sides through smart (if occasionally overblown) dialogue that spoofs their simultaneous lack of communication and merciless competition for powers great and small (such as the "purple dots" on license plates, which prevent car towing in Washington). Lehrer maintains admirable objectivity: no character is ultimately sympathetic or completely tarred and feathered by the end of this pointed portrait of Capitol Hill. (Oct.) FYI: In October, Doubleday will publish Breaking News, the third novel by Lehrer's longtime (and now former) collaborator on The News Hour, Robert MacNeil.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1140 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (August 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,381,796 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first Jim Lehrer novel I've read. I found it to be a witty, insightful probe into the complicated inner sanctum of our nation's capital. The two main characters were quite realistic, both with foibles and strengths. I particularly enjoyed the details regarding restaurants and hotels and such, being a frequent visitor (and soon to be resident) of the fabulous amalgam that is Washington. Although I felt that the subplot of the fish hatchery scheme was a stretch, it did contribute to the conclusion in an interesting way. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys political thrillers with a satiristic subtext--plus, I read it in 2 evenings! I'll certainly read more of Lehrer's earlier offerings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Lehrer's Purple Dots May 14, 2001
Jim Lehrer, in Purple Dots, puts us in the confirmation hearings of veteran CIA agent, Josh Bennett, as the new agency director. Josh finds himself, not only in a fishbowl, but the key to the advancement of a secret political agenda. Can his loyal friend and retired co-worker, Charlie, prevent damage to Josh's reputation? The author develops two symbolic themes. First, the cleansing properties of water and its ability to sustain life are shown in the need for Josh to restore honor and professionalism to CIA operations. Second, the symbiotic nature of fish propagation parallels how politics works in Washington. Lehrer's mystery describes how much camaraderie men can experience without actually building a treehouse. The humor and action flow as though you are watching Purple Dots "the movie."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Purple Dots are amusing! September 3, 2000
I didn't know Jim Lehrer wrote novels - amusing, articulate & suspenseful political thrillers. A rather telling expose of how a nomination can be torpedoed before it gets out of the bay & the bargaining that goes on behind the scenes. Both Charlie & Marty are likable rogues - one because he's seen it all & the other because he can't believe all he's seeing. One has an enduring marriage, likes his creature comforts & has a cadre of loyal retired spooks still active in the old bomb-the-opposition game. The other because he's so green & full of self-righteous perfect dreams. When the two of them clash the fun begins. & those purple dots? Ah, how petty are the things with which we barter. I enjoyed the romp. For my full review do check out [my website].
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars satirical answer to why they do that in congress November 5, 1998
pbs newsman jim lehrer has a new novel "Purple Dots" that is fun to read because it anwers the question i've often asked myself, "why does Congress do the things it does" in an amusingly satirical way. the book tells the story of a presidential appointment for director of the CIA and how his congressional confirmation becomes the struggle between his friends and a senator and his staff over the nomination. there are many games to be played out before the issue is resolved. Many of these have the ring of authenticity as well as being funny. The actions of the appointee's friends captures the fellowship and spirit of those who have worked together in prior relationships in an intense way. the friends who are all retired live on a charming area of the w. va. panhandle that gets some vivid description of the good life after retirement. all in all this is a good read ...but don't take it seriously.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Of Particular Interest to Bush Watchers December 11, 1998
By A Customer
"Purple Dots" is causing talk in Austin at the moment for two reasons: it's being used as an example of what's wrong with political parking perks as Mayor Watson is trying to make nice with Austin-bashing legislators, and some Bush watchers may be reading its description of CIA director of covert Operations "Bushong" (p.37) as a thinly-veiled satire directed at Dad and, by implication, Texas Governor Bush. As for the novel, itself, it does fall apart at the end, but up to that point it's decent reading for anyone interested in the ins and outs of Washington politics as seen by an insider. What Politex finds particularly interesting is Lehrer's "Brooks Brothers" style, a use of language and a way of thinking from a recent, by-gone era that his loyal readers probably find comforting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clancy, It's not November 20, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This COULD have been a good read. It is probably the most unsatisfying book I have read in a long time. The only reason I bought it was I have great respect for the Author as a journalist and Don Imus hawking it on his show. Mr. Lehrer could have served the reader by including the menu's from all the restaurants instead the wasted page after page of what they ate. I am not aware of fresh water fish having sex- I thought females spewed eggs on a bed and the males did their things to the eggs. I suggest that Mr. Lehrer read Stein on Writing and Zuckerman Writing the blockbuster novel. The characters in this book are flat and the only one I liked was the fat lawyer.
Mr. Lehrer should keep his day - night job.
Steve Roberts
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading, did not like the ending. November 28, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book give a great window into the workings of Washington's political world (very realistic). It also does a fabulous job at giving a taste of non-political life outside the beltway and can almost be used as a tour book of VA, WV, MD. It's a short book, great to read on a long flight! It kept me in suspence almost to the end. Worth reading, although I did not like the ending!
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