In most countries around the world, democracy or the formation of its power structure revolves in some way around the “Estate System”. Primarily limited to the four estates, those representing the Parliament (Legislature), the Judiciary (legal/ justice system), the military and police, the press, business and finally the consumers or people. But then, in some countries and as the inspiration for quite a few political thrillers, there is the Deep State. Those parts of the government or clandestine powers, working for or against the state, in a covert fashion for their own or others ideals or the ideals. This brings us to this month’s 1st book review, its the aptly named Deep State by Christ Hautry and is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster (www.simonandschuster.com) on the 23rd January.
A year after leaving the US Military, Hayley Chill lands a job as an Intern in the west wing of The White House. Much to the annoyance of her fellow much younger and connected interns, the Virginian native and product of life with little opportunities, starts to make an impression on the Chief of Staff and the President. Shortly after her arrival, she discovers the Chief Of Staff dead, when she arrives at his house one morning with his daily briefing. Unbeknown to the killers they’ve left a vital clue behind and Hayley discovers it, but with the FBI’s lead investigator not entirely believing her story, Hayley is unsure whom to trust. Her boss’ death also brings to the fore other players in the West Wing’s febrile office politics, in the form of his deputy, a woman who has her own ideas about climbing Washington’s greasy pole and keeping Haley away from the spotlight. But when she unwittingly realises that a member of the secret service she’s dating is involved and has to kill him to save her own life, Hayley discovers the conspirators are buried within all facets of the government and threat isn’t stopping at the Chief of staff, but aims to take out the person sitting behind the Resolute desk, the President. With the pool of people she can trust with this knowledge diminishing rapidly, can she stop the conspiracy before they stop her?
It’s been years since a thriller has got me as excited and pumped as this one did. The first one to ever do that was Archer’s “Shall We tell The President”, when I read it almost thirty-five years ago. Albeit, there have been a few in between that have also got my pulse racing like Hauty’s current offering.
I think what really got me engrossed in this story was the idea of a lowly intern in Washington discovering a plot to kill the President and the race against time to stop it. Previously both in film, TV and literature it’s been someone with a bit more power, a military/ naval officer, or an FBI/Police detective. Yes, the pace in the book is frenetic and even though Hayley is basically the US Military’s answer to Katie Taylor, you still feel worried for her and her vulnerabilities, because we the reader know ,what power her opponents wield.
The plot itself may not be original – most political thrillers have a threat to the life of the US president in them, leaving this reviewer wondering what would it be like to read a thriller which puts the Chinese or Russian Presidents life in danger? Why does POTUS get to have all the fun? But in the light of the Russian interference in the last US Election, the plot is topical and gets you again wondering if like the Manchurian Candidate, what types of dark forces are at play behind the scenes and under the surfaces of Washington, London and Moscow, even Beijing.
Hauty’s style of writing is some of the best I’ve read in a while, it comes across as very complete and shows love for all his characters, whether they are good or bad. Every part of the story and the back history as well as the future of every character is rounded off to the last minute, unlike some books where the support cast just drift off after they’ve served their purpose. Hauty’s have their lives mapped out, even to the point where wife of one character is described as dying of a heart attack 15yrs to the day when she last made love to her husband…
This is American Screenwriter Chris Hauty’s (www.chrishauty.com) first novel. He’s worked for every major film and TV studio and collaborated with stars such Jessica Alba and Mel Gibson. The book was written in the summer of 2018 in the Rare Books and Music room of The British Museum. He lives in Venice, California with his Triumph motorcycle and a feral cat.
This book is littered with plot twists throughout but just as you think you’ve got a handle on this story Chris drops a piano on the reader, which then decides to roll down the hill over you again for good measure. So my advice is, if you are looking for book to get you through some Coronavirus enforced isolation, or want to start making a list for your summer holiday reads, this book needs to be at the top of your list and no matter what else you forget, don’t leave this until you’ve read every page of this amazing book.
Reviewed by : Adrian Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Thing Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.