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Posts Tagged ‘Fletcher Knebel’

Letters of Vanished on novel jacket in progressively smaller letters

Vanished is a Cold War era political thriller that will sound familiar to readers who grew up in that era.

White House Press Secretary Eugene Culligan relates the events.

One election year, a good, personal friend of President Roudebush vanishes from Burning Tree Golf Club.

Investigators learn Steve Greer left the country by a circuitous route.

That raises speculation that Greer’s in trouble, and that the President may be involved, too.

The President’s party gets jittery; so does Wall Street.

The President assigns the FBI to handle the investigation, which infuriates the CIA director and raises further speculation of something shady going on.

Culligan gets nervous because he can’t get information.

The press is hounding him, but he has nothing to say because he knows nothing.

Eventually, Culligan learns everything, but not before the American public and Fletcher Knebel’s readers do.

Knebel draws all his characters well enough that they are distinguishable but not particularly memorable. The focus is the story of what happened to Steve Greer and who’s going to break the story.

The ending fits its Cold War setting, but may sound a little simplistic today.

None the less, Vanished will entertain without deadening the brain cells.


Vanished by Fletcher Knebel
Doubleday, 1968. 407 p. (Book Club Edition). 1968 bestseller #8. My grade: B.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Picture of speaker addressing political conventionIn Convention,  veteran Washington reporters Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II take readers behind the scenes to see what happens at a national political convention out of sight of TV cameras.

Unfortunately, what happens out of sight of the TV cameras isn’t much more interesting than what readers see on TV.

Charles B. Manchester, Secretary of the Treasury and heir-apparent to the President, appears to have his party’s nomination sewn up.

Then Manchester utters an off-the-cuff comment at a press conference, which turns everyone with a stake in building a new defense system against him.

Manchester’s honestly believes the new weapon is not needed. He won’t back down, even if it means losing the nomination.

What is interesting from a contemporary perspective is that the plot hinges on use of a secret computer stuffed with data about the convention delegates. That may sound tame, but when Convention was written 50 years ago most people had not heard the term computer and Big Data was still a baby.

Other than that, there’s not much new or interesting in the novel.

I don’t need to tell you that with a little nudge The Great American Electorate will rise up to support The Honest Man.

You’ve seen this plot before, and the characters are as cliché-choked as the plot.

Note to subscribers: I apologize for not posting this review Tuesday as promised.  Apparently I deleted it instead of scheduling it.

Convention
By Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II
Harper & Row, 1964
343 pages
1964 bestseller #10
My grade: B
 
 

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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