“The Accomplice” by Charles Robbins / Thursday, October 25, 2012 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is The Accomplice by Charles Robbins.

"The Accomplice" by Charles Robbins

If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

Why Clay Stafford chose this book:

In the race for a new president, this is a political thriller in the truest sense, a behind-the-scenes look at the America we have become. Not since “Primary Colors” have I had so much fun reading a politically based novel. Written in fast-flowing detail that only a Washington insider could provide, this is a tour de force of characters and plotting, choices and decisions.

The story revolves around Henry Hatten, communications director of Republican Senator Peele’s bid for the White House. “Just saying the words, ‘I’m running for President of the United States’ is an awesome act. The sheer gall, to stand up and say you can lead the free world better than anybody else.” Peele is a centrist in the race and “about the only moderate Republican.” Peele appears to be the Golden Boy, another Teflon Man, but “up close, Henry noticed that Peele hadn’t shaved the back of his neck, leaving stubble that extended from hairline to collar. The guy wasn’t perfect.” Thus, the foreshadowing to come.

I was immediately lost in the world and found it easily accessible because of the way it was written. Charles Robbins is definitely the author to write this story. It is his debut into fiction. Prior, his beat has been nonfiction. He has co-written three nonfiction books with co-writers former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter. He has run press shops for two Congressman, a Senator, a gubernatorial campaign, and one presidential election. As a navy reserve officer, he was a speech writer for the Secretary of the Navy. He has the background to get it right. All of this explains why this book is so good.

Peele not only has to take on the opposing party, but also members of his own. “Rise and stifle the shrill cries of the extremist right that hijacked the party.” It certainly shows the absurdity that is within politics as in the suggestion, “Build an Iowa steering committee.” “What does a steering committee steer?” “Doesn’t steer anything. Doesn’t do anything. We put a checkbox on fund-raising letters inviting donors to join the committee. They feel important and we look like we got a wide, deep bench.” It dives into the shallow minds of the voters informing us via those in power that “people don’t vote for you. They vote for the character you play. For the image, the icon, the Mattel action figure.” And it explores the conflict, even between the various factions of government (attributed to LBJ) such as “the difference between the Senate and the House is the difference between the chicken salad and the chicken shit.” As Truman once stated, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

This is one of those must-read books. Even after this current election, this is a timeless American novel that should be a part of every library collection and should be read at least once every four years. Charles Robbins is definitely an author to watch. He is currently working on an upcoming historical political novel involving the U.S. Senate. I think he has found his genre and his audience. I hope to be reading his work for a very long time.

From Amazon:

“In this stellar debut by journalist turned Washington insider and political writer Charles Robbins, an eager politico finds himself on the rise only to discover the perilous costs of success.

When Henry Hatten wangles a job as communications director for Nebraska SenatorTom Peele’s presidential campaign, he breathes a huge sigh of relief. Smarting over a recent gubernatorial campaign in which his pulling a political punch may have cost his boss the race, he’s thrilled to be back in action.

This time around, Henry is determined to shuck his ethical qualms. But he soon finds he’s facing more than he imagined. The new gig turns out to be rife with scandal and corruption – just the kind of politics Henry so fervently sought to banish. Events go from bad to worse as the depths of greed emerge, tracking the acceleration and excitement in the campaign itself. Led by a ruthless chairman and filled with warring aides, hired thugs, fractious union bosses, and snooping reporters, the Peele campaign is shaping up to be quite the circus. And that’s before Henry’s ex arrives on the scene . . .

But when someone close to the campaign is murdered, Henry can no longer turn a blind eye. As he conducts his own covert investigation, still more secrets emerge. So deeply entrenched in the politics and manipulation, Henry must face a staggering reality in which his values are no longer his own. But can he extricate himself and salvage the career he loves? And can he do so with his soul intact? A brilliantly plotted and characterized political novel, The Accomplice takes readers into the guts of a brutal presidential campaign. “

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Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!

– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville