by Lawrence Alexander

With RUBICON, debut novelist Lawrence Alexander manages with
great aplomb to write an intelligent, thoughtful work taking place
in the immediate political moment, even as it raises cautionary
issues that are of timeless import.

The name of the protagonist in RUBICON is a subtle tip-off as to
where the story will be going. Bobby Hart is a California senator
who could have been a candidate for president, but demurred for
personal reasons. An honest and decent man, he receives a warning
about a terrorist attack upon the United States that will come from
within. Hart starts a quiet investigation into the matter even as
death begins to stalk him. However, he is relentless, a trait
shared by his shadowy foe, who seeks to implicate a plan known only
as Rubicon.

As his search for the truth brings him closer to the answers he
seeks --- answers that surprise him, but from which he does not
turn away --- Hart finds himself in conflict with powerful forces
in the national law enforcement and intelligence communities, a
conflict that places him in ultimate danger. Yet he is vociferous
in his pursuit, even as he uncovers a terrible plot to subvert one
cherished American institution that is secretly and quietly being
attacked by another.

One faces a bit of a conundrum with RUBICON. The man behind the
curtain in the story --- a conniving, highly placed official in the
presidential administration who seeks to manipulate events to his
own ends --- is readily recognizable to those whose worldview is
informed by The New York Times, Keith Olbermann and
Michael Moore. The title, while having obvious historical
implications, also may be an extremely subtle play on words aimed
at a sector of the political spectrum. The timing of its
publication is somewhat unfortunate, given that there has been
detected from many corners some general weariness with the
unrelenting drumbeat of negativity against the incumbent
presidential team.

RUBICON, however, remains worth reading, if only for the issues it
raises. Alexander, regardless of your political party affiliation,
is a thoughtful writer. His dialogue is mesmerizing; this is more
difficult to do than it seems, particularly in a thriller work,
where one expects more storm and thunder than what is encountered
here. Alexander’s style is more cerebral yet no less
interesting because of it.

While the turn of current events may have made RUBICON somewhat
implausible, it remains a cautionary tale that makes one grateful
for the checks and balances at the heart of our system of
government that are in a constant state of flux but that --- to
varying degrees --- still work.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

by Lawrence Alexander

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061456411
  • ISBN-13: 9780061456411