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by Mark Gimenez
Sphere, January 2013
560 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751543764

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THE GOVERNOR'S WIFE begins well with Lindsay Bonner, the wife of Bode Bonner, the Governor of Texas, making a political visit to the slums along the Rio Grande. She is not looking forward to it and it is clear that she is thoroughly bored with the celebrity life she is obliged to lead. The slums are entirely populated by Mexicans looking to enter the United States illegally. She is shocked by their living conditions no sanitation, no electricity and no medical assistance. Then, in one of the colonias, she encounters a young doctor who has set up a clinic and is doing his best to care for the inhabitants. A trained nurse, she helps him save the life of a Mexican boy who has been shot and then, on an impulse, decides to stay and help him.

The Governor's political strategist, Jim Bob Burnet, who had once cherished ambitions to take Bode to the White House, knows that will never happen, but he is so popular in Texas that he will retain the governorship for life if he wants it. Bode, however, is faintly dissatisfied and longs for a situation to arise which would give him a chance to run for President. Then, quite out of the blue, two things happen to make Bode a hero, not only in Texas but also on the national stage. Jim Bob quickly seizes on the opportunity and sets about making Bode the undisputed Republican candidate. He has three problems, however. First, although nobody yet knows about it, the Governor's wife appears to have left him - something, which will not be acceptable to the voters; secondly, Bode has a mistress young enough to be his daughter; finally, a very powerful man is making every effort to kill him.

Jim Bob isn't going to let such details stand in his way, however, and assures Bode that he can deal with the situation ("That's what I do."). There is a lot of political manoeuvring, the account of which is rather dull and derivative. All politicians, particularly Republicans apparently, are corrupt, but fortunately the electorate is too stupid to realize that. It is at this point that the book begins to falter and the author shows himself quite incapable of resolving the three problems the Governor faces. He removes the mistress from the scene rather clumsily and in view of what we have seen of her quite inappropriately. There remain, however, the dual problems of his wife and his would-be assassin. These are connected and are resolved at the end of the book.

The end, in fact, comes rather abruptly. After a considerable amount of unnecessary overwriting - the book is over five hundred pages long - Gimenez seems to decide that it is time to bring it to an end. The two incidents that pushed Bode into the limelight were only just about believable but the ending is not. After having been almost completely concerned with politics and social conditions on the Texas/Mexico border, the book suddenly becomes a not particularly good conventional action thriller. Two men embark on an escapade about which Clark Kent might have had reservations. They are suddenly joined by allies who appear from nowhere, but entirely pointlessly because, just as suddenly, they are dead. The hero, however, triumphs. But who is the hero and who triumphs? This unsatisfactory ending lets down an otherwise promising book.

Arnold Taylor is a retired Examinations Board Officer, amateur writer and even more amateur bridge player.

Reviewed by Arnold Taylor, April 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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