The players who live hard and fast in today's vitriolic political
environment are the driving force in Stuart Woods's newest
thriller, CAPITAL CRIMES. He brings back Will Lee, the former
senator from Georgia, who is now President of the United States.
His wife, Katherine Rule Lee, wields power as Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency. She was "appointed to that post by her
husband, after an act of Congress had allowed him to do so."
Together, with the help of Robert Kinney, the FBI's deputy director
for Criminal Investigations and a law enforcement crew from
different agencies, they must stop a killer who is assassinating
The timely story reflects so much of what is happening in America
--- the divided factions of ideologues whose issues arise from
their personal philosophies; the narrow-minded politicos who
believe their doctrines are the only ones that count; the power
hungry officials who lose sight of their original commitment to
their constituents; the anger among the disenfranchised electorate;
and the compelling themes of good vs. bad, them against us, whose
rights are primary, and ultimately, does fiction reflect the truth
about the world as we think we know it and how it is run. The lines
between "Liberals" and "Conservatives" merge because anyone with an
agenda and gun just needs to point and shoot.
CAPITAL CRIMES is a fast read, but that doesn't diminish its
impact. When Senator Freddie Wallace is murdered at his weekend
cabin, the possibility that secrets he had kept for years might be
leaked sends a wave of fear to everyone from the Oval Office to
almost all the corridors of power across the country: "What has a
lot of people in Washington worried is that Senator Wallace was
rumored to have kept extensive files on various people in
government and that the information in those files might find its
way into the media. According to rumor, only J. Edgar Hoover had
more dirt on more important people."
The first leak was about Elizabeth Johnson, who had been the
Senator's lover for over twenty years. When she found him she knew
what to do. She "had gone through the house carefully, packing
anything that might be linked to her into two large suitcases. She
and Freddie had talked about this more than once, and his
instructions had been explicit." He told her to take everything
that belonged to her, get out of the house and call the sheriff.
And that is exactly what she did.
When she got home she "opened a desk drawer in the den … and
took out a key. She went down the stairs to the basement and to a
pile of boxes in a corner. She moved one, exposing a small filing
cabinet, the kind that holds index cards … she switched on a
light, illuminating a row of precisely filed cards, all of them
labeled with neatly printed names of some of the best-known, most
powerful people in the country." At first she had wanted to look at
them "but instead, she stared at the cards as if they were a
poisonous reptile." She put the cards away and decided she "would
wait awhile, until the furor over Freddie's death died down, then
she would burn all those index cards in her fireplace."
But when Kinney found her, he told her he knew about the senator's
cache of files and said, "The senator had a lot of enemies …
if we interview every one of them, it will take months, maybe years
to develop suspects. He took a deep breath and told the lie. 'Now,
I think it's very possible that, somewhere in those files is the
name and the motive of the man who murdered the senator.'"
Elizabeth understood immediately how important it was for Bob
Kinney to take possession of the mean-spirited legacy she had kept
hidden for so long.
Woods tells us a lot about Ted, the killer. We learn why he kills.
We learn about his thought patterns. We get to know him through his
heinous crimes. He was a master of disguises and great with his
hands. He was able to make his own guns and rebuild his car so that
the carapace hid the engine and other high-tech adjustments he
made. We learn that he had been planning this killing spree for
years and that he is a very patient man.
But someone knows his identity, where he can be found and how to
catch him. Not surprisingly, that someone wants to speak to CIA
Director Katherine Rule Lee. He wants a dialogue with her but only
on his terms. She is reluctant to tell anyone that he's been in
touch with her. Why has she not told even the President about her
contact with this mystery man? Is she hiding something behind her
post as First Lady, or does her silence have something to do with
her assignment with the CIA?
Stuart Woods is an accomplished writer who has produced 29 books,
all of them gems. He is known for his well-crafted plots and
intriguing characters. He is an accessible writer with an
exceptional ability to take a headline and reweave it into a
suspenseful novel. That uncanny talent makes CAPITAL CRIMES another
jewel in his crown.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 21, 2011