Patriotic Gamble
by Ken Gorman

"Everything had fallen in place to create a constitutional crisis. 'Atkinsen will never get his two-hundred-seventy votes now,' he whispered to himself."

Presidential politics turns deadly in this "inside the Beltway" thriller. Steve Wagner is the overworked chief of staff to a sitting U.S. president who's facing a historically rare crisis: winning too few electoral votes for a second term. When neither President Herbert Atkinsen and his vice-presidential running mate, nor the challenging ticket, gets the required 270 electoral votes, electors prepare to convene in Washington D.C. to vote as state delegations, with one vote per state for president and vice president. Drama intensifies as that process, too, threatens to deadlock. For the first time since the 1800s, the vote may be kicked to the U.S. Congress.

The president's surprise choice of a running mate from the opposing political party, after the scandal-related, forced resignation of his first vice president, has further heightened tensions. Many of the president's base supporters have been alienated, while new crossover backers have been garnered, resulting in deep, nationwide division. Then, as the Electoral College vote approaches, and backroom deals are made to secure votes, several high-level insiders are murdered. Wagner, meanwhile, is forced to conceal from the public the president's reoccurring, debilitating depression tied to the death of his wife and now the sudden death of a key advisor and longtime friend.

Gorman skillfully meshes history, affairs of state and the personal lives of Oval Office insiders into a highly readable thriller that will satisfy political junkies and novices. Characters are well crafted and believable, with palpable private struggles. The author, also skillfully, pares the story's constitutional complexities down to an easily comprehendible numbers game. This is an uncontestable winner.

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