Gambit
by Karna Small Bodman


Forge Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0765319289.
Reviewed by Susan Wittig Albert
Posted on 01/08/2008

Fiction: Thriller

Bodman's second political thriller (Gambit, 2008, following Checkmate, 2007) has some compelling strengths: a frighteningly topical premise, complex plot and subplots, taut intrigue, non-stop tension. U.S. commercial air traffic is under assault by unknown assailants using what missile-defense expert Cameron Talbot believes to be a stealth missile, undetectable by radar. Her assignment: perfect her 360-degree laser defense system so it can be used to protect commercial airliners. With passenger jets shot out of the skies like pigeons, the airline industry in a nosedive, and the stock market in the tank, she'd better hurry. Her top-secret work is complicated by attempts on her life (I counted six) and a love triangle involving the Vice President of the United States and former lover Hunt Daniels.

Bodman draws a convincing, authentically-detailed picture of Washington in chaos as politicians try to control a spiraling catastrophe. Unfortunately, the characters are less convincing, tending toward the stereotypical: the imperiled heroine and her ditzy sidekick; the strong, silent hero; the suavely tricky politicos; the vile villains—foreigners, naturally. And the cute-clever dialogue often reads like something out of a comic book. Disaster novel fans (of whom I am one) will find themselves reading for plot and premise and skimming the rest.


From the book's jacket: Karna Small Bodman served in the White House for six years, first as deputy press secretar and later as senior director of the National Security Council. She was also on the air for fifteen years as a reporter, television news anchor, and political commentator. More on her website.

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