It is not unusual for a political thriller to possess a far-fetched plot, with America's military and diplomatic power laid low through some foreign threat against the President or the Congress. What is different with Vince Flynn's latest effort, Transfer of Power, emerges in its sense of authenticity, depth of research, and almost seamless dramatic scenario. In this post-Cold War environment, every nation with an intelligence operation poses a menace to the more powerful military nations. A group of Middle Eastern terrorists put together a sinister plan to seize the White House and the President, and demand the return of the vast amounts of money confiscated from Iran during the Shah's overthrow.

While President Robert Hayes, a former U.

S. Senator and political bridgebuilder between the warring parties, is alerted to the possibility of an armed terrorist act against the Executive Mansion, there is almost nothing that can be done to stop it. At the same time that this plan is underway, a covert mission by an elite counter-terrorist team pushes ahead to snare a major Iranian figure involved in terrorism throughout the region. The snatch of the terrorist is accomplished without a hitch but the clock is ticking at the White House as the siege is about to commence.

One of Flynn's finest skills as an up-and-coming young master in the genre of political thrillers is his ability to create a cast of compelling characters, from President Hayes to super operative Mitch Rapp to the resourceful Rafique Aziz. Each one is drawn in a few eloquent strokes, giving readers just enough substance to make them full-bodied.

The battle to capture the White House gets a top rating for its intensity and realism. The combat, like the plan to infiltrate the White House, reveals the wealth of research used in constructing the novel. None of the events leading to the entrapment of the President rings false. As the President waits nervously for the resolution of the crisis, the true nature of Beltway politics rears its ugly head, with both his allies and enemies suddenly jockeying for positions of power and advantage. Alternating views of the action from both captors and captives raise the heat. And through its unforgiving depiction of lawmakers, cabinet personnel, and government agencies, Transfer of Power says much about the take-no-prisoners attitude of American politics.

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