Prolific writer and producer E. Duke Vincent has worked on many popular television series, including "Beverly Hills 90210," "Dynasty," "Melrose Place" and "7th Heaven." He has won Emmy Awards for his TV movies And the Band Played On and Day One, and brings this keen writing style to books.
THE CAMELOT CONSPIRACY, Vincent's fourth novel, is a riveting thriller that weaves historical people and events from the 1960s with a fast-paced fictional story. It's a fascinating time period that encompasses Castro overtaking Cuba, the first Irish-Catholic President, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Throw in the mob, and the action heats up.
World War II hero turned Chicago mobster Dante Amato seems to have it all --- smoldering good looks, abundant money and beautiful women. His job keeps him in the thick of the action. Frequently traveling between Hollywood and Las Vegas provides him with plenty of opportunity to mingle with celebrities and showgirls. He teams up with a gorgeous Cuban aristocrat, Marissa del Valle, to kill Castro. Since Castro took over Cuba, the mob's casino and drug trafficking came to a standstill. The U.S. government wants Castro and communism out. The mob agrees to help out with a hit on Castro, but they weren't counting on Castro's informers to block several of their attempts. As the plot thickens, their target shifts from Castro to President Kennedy.
The mob plans their attack around the President's campaign route in Chicago, Tampa and Dallas, setting up a patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald, to take the blame for the shooting. Meanwhile, the mob prepares three of its own shooters. President Kennedy's team gets wind of the threats, but wants to keep it secret so that he doesn't look weak in front of the public. JFK's motorcade is rerouted at the last minute, throwing another wrench in their plans. The mob realizes there must be a rat among them, as several assassination attempts fail.
Dante must make hard choices. He thinks killing Castro makes sense, since the mob wants its casino and drug business to flourish, but Kennedy is another story. If Dante tells his CIA brother, Aldo, he will be risking his life. It's a moral dilemma that has to play out in utter secrecy.
E. Duke Vincent has the unique talent of creating descriptive scenes and characters. One scene in particular truly stands out. Dante and Marissa are in Cuba on a mission to kill Castro. They are invited to a dinner party with Castro and several statesmen. It's easy to visualize the colonial mansion, the well-groomed gardens, and the luxurious dining area complete with Waterford and crystal chandeliers. Vincent describes Castro as a lady's man with a lot of charm as he unabashedly flirts with Marissa. He gallantly takes two champagne flutes and toasts with Marissa. Later, it is revealed to Dante that their cover is blown and they need to escape from Cuba to Key Largo. It's these great visual elements that add to the enjoyment of the novel.
THE CAMELOT CONSPIRACY makes me feel like a fly on the wall, listening in on the back-door politics behind the plots to kill Castro and President Kennedy. I never tire of stories about the Kennedys, the mob and the dark side of politics. If you're looking for a spellbinding thriller, this is an excellent choice.
Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell on May 16, 2011
The Camelot Conspiracy: A Novel of the Kennedys, Castro & the Cia