Title: The Candidate
Author: Paul Harris
Publication Information: Vantage Press, trade paperback, July 2012, isbn 978-1936467389
Plot: Trailing in the polls, slightly before the Iowa Caucuses, Jack Hodges is a virtually unknown presidential candidate. Then, on one cold night, there is an assassination attempt – Hodges instinctively shields his wife and they survive the attack. Overnight, he is proclaimed a hero and his candidacy picks up steam and overtakes the female frontrunner. But his campaign manager, a crude but canny Louisiana native named Dee Babineaux, sends Mike Sweeney, an idealistic campaign worker, to figure out who the would-be assassin is and what she may be hiding that could damage Hodge’s ascent. Mike is the book’s most interesting character as he longs for a candidate he can support wholeheartedly. He believes Senator Hodges can deliver meaningful change, but as he investigates the mysterious assassin (languishing in jail in Iowa after the campaign has moved on to primaries NH and SC) he becomes more and more fearful of the truth. The investigation eventually takes him to Guatemala in pursuit of a dangerous secret that threatens to destroy more than Mike’s idealism.
Farragut North which I liked so much I saw the play and then the movie, The Ides of March, with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. Author Paul Harris is a reporter who covers presidential campaigns for British newspapers.
I read this while I was listening to Game Change in my car, which was an interesting contrast as it is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the 2008 election. Alternating between these two books made me think I was in wintery Iowa or New Hampshire instead of a steamy Indian summer day. Both were perfect reads for a political junkie like me and many of my friends.
What I disliked: The conclusion was clever: I admired the author for avoiding a clichéd happy ending but at the same time I was a little disappointed and