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by William Bernhardt
Ballantine, January 2008
416 pages
ISBN: 0345487567

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The United States lost its "innocence" after the events of September 11, 2001 that brought out both the best and the worst in everyone. America's sense of security was shattered and the government responded by passing the controversial Patriot Act. It awoke Americans to things they didn't know before and many felt threatened to discover just how much power the government has over its people.

In CAPITOL CONSPIRACY, William Bernhardt imagines a further step. What if the Patriot Act was not enough? What if the government passed a Constitutional amendment that, in effect, temporarily suspended the Bill of Rights during a crisis? It is an interesting proposition and it might make a good essay or book but in this novel it is just a device. It moves the story along and gives us bits of information about how government works and little else.

William Bernhardt's Ben Kincaid has gone through a lot from his time working as an Oklahoma City lawyer in such novels as DARK JUSTICE and SILENT JUSTICE to his time now as a politician in Washington, DC. Here, the story gets to be interesting but the author goes a little bit too far. The novel starts with an extreme scene of torture, not for the squeamish, that would probably make 24's Jack Bauer proud or at least take some notes. However when it comes to the rest of the book the violence is toned down considering what is going on. The same could be said for the sex life of one of the characters who plays an instrumental role in the story.

If you are just looking for a book to pass the time, you could do worse. However, I think that the book takes too many liberties while trying to make a point and failing. Yes, the book has its twists and turns and perhaps a surprise here and there. If all you want is a bit of diversion, then this should fill the bill. But if you are looking for a book that takes its own ideas seriously, then you might want to look elsewhere.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, February 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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