Fictional president strangely familiar in this entertaining thriller

In To Kill The President, author Sam Bourne offers a fictional leader who is strangely familiar. 

Sam Bourne

The name "Donald Trump" does not appear on the pages of this twist-a-minute political thriller. But the comparisons between the fictional president in Sam Bourne’s latest novel and the perm-tanned US Commander in Chief are too stark to ignore.

The unnamed character is portrayed as a hot-headed, abusive, power-crazed maniac and the author gives a virtual view behind the White House walls.

Trump haters will love it.

The narrative begins with a wild-eyed president, juiced up on North Korean threats and political pundits’ scaremongering. He storms into a control room intent on ordering a nuclear strike with the potential to wipe out most of the globe. While he is pacified at the last minute, his impulsivity sets in motion an intricate assassination plot.

The novel might not be literary fiction but it raises interesting questions about whether wiping out a dangerous figurehead could ever be justified.

Could democracy benefit from such an extreme act? Can murder be passed off as an act of patriotism?

Maggie Costello, an Irish-born White House diplomat, does not think so.

A trusted aide to the previous president — a principled, charismatic leader with some not-so subtle similarities to Barack Obama, Maggie is tasked with investigating a suspicious death of someone close to the president.

She is  given the job only so her nosiness can be monitored. But Maggie gets a lot further than anyone could imagine and wrestles with her own demons while furiously digging for the truth.

The author, who writes under the pseudonym of Sam Bourne, is Jonathan Freedland, a former Washington correspondent for The Guardian.

To say this is a page-turner is an understatement.

The pace is frenetic. Keeping up such a tempo without becoming cartoonish is a real skill and Bourne treads the line. Every chapter ends with a virtual ellipsis, willing the reader on.

Bourne could be accused of simply profiting from the rising tide of anti-Trump sentiment but it is quite simply an entertaining yarn.

- Rob Kidd is an ODT crime reporter.

Add a Comment