Capital Offense, by Kathleen Antrim, has just been re-launched for this political season. The author used her vast experiences of being a national correspondent to create a very intriguing premise: how far will a political machine go to achieve ultimate power. This book takes the reader behind the scenes of a political race, touching on journalistic integrity and the power brokers.
The author noted in the beginning of the book that she was inspired by the unregulated power of first ladies, with Hillary Clinton the spark that ignited the story. It is more a story of manipulative politicians as seem through the life of Warner Lane, his wife Carolyn, and his political pundits. In attempting to grasp political power they will stop at nothing, even murder, to achieve their goal. They are obsessed with the desire to see him become President, even willing to frame Carolyn for the killings they committed. The story exposes this and how many journalists look the other way, while never questioning relevant facts. That is until one reporter, Jack Rudly, investigates his dad’s death wondering if it was murder instead of an accident. Throughout the novel readers see the inner workings of getting someone elected while avoiding the many barriers in their path.
Although people think the main character draws a comparison to Hillary Clinton she is more like Jackie Kennedy and Laura Bush combined. She is intelligent, sympathetic, and altruistic. It is obvious that Carolyn’s marriage to Warner is one of convenience, a business and power agreement. This marriage was not bound together by love but by ambitions. The author skillfully contrasts her with Warner Lane, showing how she is very successful professionally but has demons in her personal life, including an abusive husband. As the story progresses so does the reader’s dislike for Warner who never takes any responsibility, degrades in personality, and erodes into the world of moral bankruptcy. This can be seen in a quote from the book when Warner blames Carolyn who “caused him to lose control, caused him to hit her…”
Antrim explained to blackfive.net, “I thought about how certain First Ladies want a voice in the administration. Carolyn had issues dear to her heart and did what she felt was needed to stay in power. She thought she had a good reason for what she was doing. Compare her to Hillary Clinton who has a forward aggressive personality. Even though she was not elected or appointed by the President she had enormous power. She demanded an office in the West Wing, which is very valuable real estate. Every other First Lady, past and present, has an office in the East Wing. Think about it, even national security advisors have some kind of oversight while the First Lady has none.”
Readers might question if the plot sustains believability but they should think no further than some political pundits who had controversial deaths. In December 1972 Dorothy Hunt, the wife of convicted “plumber” E. Howard Hunt died in a suspicious plane crash. The Clinton White House counsel, Vince Foster, supposedly committed suicide; yet, there is forensic evidence that his body was dumped in a park. Ron Brown, the Secretary of Commerce in 1996 also died in a plane crash, but Antrim noted, “The autopsy report shows a cylindrical hole in Brown’s head consistent with a bullet wound. People might not believe the killings in this story but let’s remember people have been killed for far less than aspiring to achieve the most powerful position on the planet, the President of the United States.”
The story faults many journalists for not wanting to expose the truth, as evidenced with this quote, “If the press doesn’t report the truth, the people don’t get the truth.” Antrim wanted to hammer this point home, that objective journalism is basically dead. She did a great job with it in this story even if some events were a bit exaggerated. She is discouraged with today’s reporting, “When reading the front page of a major newspaper you can see how biased the writer is by the word choice and the angle chosen. Even bloggers need to understand that there are rules unless someone is making a commentary and then they need to find an angle and use reputable sources to support it.”
Capital Offense has a very believable plot considering the deceit, revenge, power and murder in this novel, basically, politics as usual. Besides being suspenseful and riveting, every concerned voter should read this book as an eye-opener to what political campaigns are really like.
On a side note, Kathleen Antrim will be participating in the Veteran’s Benefit Book Fair on November 8th, because she thinks those who serve are amazing and should be recognized for the sacrifices made day in and day out. She is one of those that does the walk along with the talk considering she is currently the USO Director for International Thriller Writers and has done two tours entertaining the troops in the Middle East since many are readers.