I Do Solemnly Swear
By D M Annechino
|Value for money||4/10|
|Did it do what it said on the box?||4/10|
The bar for this sort of thriller has been set very high by the likes of Tom Clancy, “24” and the brilliant play “The Last Confession” about the death of and succession to Pope John Paul 1. This book fails to reach that standard, and left me feeling very dissatisfied.
Ultimately this is a conspiracy plot which involves almost everyone in the White House except the central character, and feels like a tired reworking as a result. Furthermore that conspiracy is not really credible, with Aryan supremacists who have presumably just quietly ignored Barack Obama, Colin Powell and the many Jewish members of recent US administrations. Many characters know much more than would be realistic in a successful conspiracy, which fundamentally requires secrecy.
Although the book inhabits the real world of current Middle Eastern politics and players, other realities are ignored. For example early on there are several misogynistic “a woman can’t do this job” challenges to the new president, but no one thinks to mention Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or any of the US’s successful female Secretaries of State.
The writing fails to be either intriguing or suspenseful. With only one main exception the main characters remain true to the new president’s initial assessment of their personalities and loyalties. The chief of staff and housekeeper behave suspiciously, but the reason is immediately disclosed, rather than the disclosure being deferred for a page or two.
Many of the details are simply laughable. Apparently the head of the Secret Service is a dwarf of 4ft 10. The villain is a Nazi who refers to “Capitalist Pigs”. The president is a long-standing career politician, but apparently has no advisors except those inherited from her predecessor, and although she has a country to run, the president is worrying about her biological clock, despite being about 50.
On a practical level my pre-release review copy of the book had a number of oddities of grammar, typography and layout. While these may be rectified before publication and were not critical, they were suggestive that the work has not received a great deal of review before printing.
It’s a shame, because the premise of this book is a good one, but the execution does not deliver a worthy read.