Shall We Tell The President?
by Jeffrey Archer
For my second romantic thriller of the week I’ve chosen this 1986 novel by the British author equally famous for doing other things. Archer actually wrote and published Shall We Tell The President? in 1977 but then revised it when he realised some of the events he predicted didn’t come to pass.
The book appeals to me on two levels. First, it posits the election of a woman president of the United States, something that is distinctly possible in the not so distant future. Secondly, a main theme of the story is the reform of US gun laws. I hope I won’t alienate too many American friends by saying this, but it seems to me as an interested outsider that the present laws on guns in the USA are just plain daft. I get the constitutional thing – the right to bear arms – yet I always want to ask the question why? – why is that so important? Laws, even constitutions, can be changed, can’t they?
‘Warm fresh blood was flowing over the bottom sheet, trickling from Casefikis’s mouth, his dark eyes bulged from their sockets, his tongue hanging loose and swollen.’
But to the story. Mark Andrews is a young FBI officer who discovers a plot to murder the President on March 10, the day she plans to pass a bill on new gun controls. As the body count of those who know the secret mounts, including two of his FBI colleagues, Andrews’ life is threatened and he has to go straight to the Director with his story.
All he knows is that at the centre of the conspiracy there is a US senator, but the traitor could be any one of sixty, and Mark has only a few days to discover which one. An added complication is that one of the chief suspects happens to be the father of his new girl friend, Dr Elizabeth Dexter.
Shall We Tell The President? is the question Mark Andrews poses at the outset of his investigation. The FBI chief decides ‘no’ which means that if Mark does not come up with answers soon, both their jobs are gone – to say the very least!
‘ “It’s good to see my law officers together,” said the President. “I want to take this opportunity to discuss the Gun Control bill which I remain determined will pass on 10 March.” ‘
Andrews easily eliminates most of the sixty senators from his enquiry. Now he must examine closely the alibis of the remaining few for the particular luncheon at which his source overheard the bad guys plotting. Attending debates and conducting interviews, and even dating Elizabeth, he is constantly under surveillance by three men – but how can he be sure they are FBI and not assassins?
Like Secret Sisters, which I reviewed yesterday, Shall We Tell The President? is a formulaic thriller-romance. It is another easy read and its pages turn readily as the novel moves towards its nail-biting conclusion.