J.D. Cade is a successful businessman who has put his first career, as an Army sniper in Vietnam, far behind him. And he's walked away from a volatile feud involving the Cades and the McCrays, two families who have hated each other for over a century for reasons barely remembered by any save the surviving McCrays. The McCrays have been gunning for the Cades as if the intervening years had never passed. Now Cade's being threatened with exposure for the steps he took to protect his family from the murderous McCrays years ago. And the blackmailer wants a very specific payment from this still-sharp shooter: he wants J.D. to assassinate the charismatic and principled candidate who is only weeks away from unseating the incumbent and being elected the first black president of the United States. If J.D. refuses, his beloved son's life will be destroyed. And despite the fact that he bears Franklin Delano Rawley no ill will, and even comes to respect and admire him, J.D. accepts the challenge and allows himself to be manipulated by the faceless, nameless threat to everything he holds dear. His first effort to kill the candidate fails. As he persists, the reader comes to understand the complexities of his character, and appreciate both his dilemma and his inner struggle. J.D. finds himself not only won over by the candidate but also drawn into a relationship with Rawley's savvy and attractive campaign manager. A decent, resourceful man with his own code of honor, J.D. must untangle the web of political deceit and intrigue that dates back to his own service in Vietnam in order to free himself from a shadowy adversary who will stop at nothing. An original, suspenseful thriller that will keep you turning the pages, Joseph Flynn's The Next President
is appropriately timed to offer a literary alternative to what looks like the most tedious election campaign in years. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
The latest entry in the election year tradition of political thrillers from the campaign trail is this tough, stylish tale about a reluctant assassin who can't bring himself to follow orders to kill the Democratic nominee for the White House. The assassin is successful businessman J.D. Cade, a former army sniper who is being blackmailed into killing Franklin Delano Rawley, the black senator from Wisconsin who's engaged in a tight battle with the incumbent in the 2004 election. Cade knows neither the identity of his blackmailer nor why he wants Rawley eliminated. All he knows is that his nemesis has threatened the life of Cade's 21-year-old son, Evan, if Cade refuses to do his bidding. The blackmailer's leverage is a secret in Cade's past: three decades ago, Cade killed a man named Alvy McCray, the last death in the great Cade/McCray blood feud. Cade fears that revealing the secret will reignite the family vendetta, which has been simmering for more than a century on the Illinois-Kentucky border. Although Cade attempts to kill Rawley in Chicago, his long-range rifle shot just misses. His next step is to ingratiate himself with the Rawley campaign, posing as a major donor. Although he then gets several opportunities, he still cannot liquidate his target. In desperation, Cade decides to try to discover the identity of his blackmailer, whom he plans to murder instead. Flynn (Digger) propels his plot with potent but flexible force, using just the right mix of pressure and release to maintain suspense deep into the story. He also shows a patient touch with his characters, allowing Cade and several others to develop well beyond the status of simple role players.
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