A PRESIDENTIAL DYNASTY. AN ARAB TERRORIST ATTACK. DEMOCRACY UNDER SIEGE. Mario Puzo envisioned it all in his eerily prescient 1991 novel, The Fourth K.
President Francis Xavier Kennedy is elected to office, in large part, thanks to the legacy of his forebears–good looks, privilege, wealth–and is the very embodiment of youthful optimism. Too soon, however, he is beaten down by the political process and, disabused of his ideals, he becomes a leader totally unlike what he has been before.
When his daughter becomes a pawn in a brutal terrorist plot, Kennedy, who has obsessively kept alive the memory of his uncles’ assassinations, activates all his power to retaliate in a series of violent measures. As the explosive events unfold, the world and those closest to him look on with both awe and horror.
The latest from the author of The Godfather is a surefire success, a political novel that starts with a terrorist assassination of the pope on Easter Sunday, a deed that sends global aftershocks to jolt the power strongholds around the world, from the palace of the sultan of Sherhaben to the White House. The U.S. president is charismatic Francis Xavier Kennedy, scion of the famed and ill-fated clan. Still mourning his dead wife, Kennedy turns his energies to the country's betterment, forging an idealistic ``new social contract.'' But Kennedy is also a target of the terrorists, whose mentalities the novel deftly probes: Romeo, a ``Christ of Violence,'' needs to atone for his pampered upbringing; Yabril, a fierce Arab, privately thirsts to smite--like the angel Azazel--the president's daughter Theresa. After an appalling crime is committed, Kennedy coldly vows to bomb Sherhaben off the map, despite the American fortunes invested there. His cabinet and the wily, aged members of the Socrates Club--who control grain, real estate, oil, the media and Congress--plot to impeach him. Random acts of violence by young Americans (e.g., naive MIT scientists who plant a mini-atom bomb in Manhattan) enliven and multiply the dangers. Within the male power hierarchy, capable women like vice-president Helen Du Pray calculate their moves. Astute characterizations, vivid drama and Puzo's shrewd analyses of the paradoxes of evil detonate a top-notch thriller. (Jan.)