Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Richard North Patterson: The Race

Richard North Patterson is known for his murder/lawyer stories with political overtones. I’ve always enjoyed them. In The Race he skips the murder and lawyers, sticking strictly to politics – a presidential election.

Corey Grace is a Republican Senator and war hero who tends toward the moderate wing of his party. He votes for what he believes is correct, regardless of what party leadership would prefer. To this point, that sounds like a current Republican candidate. But in this case, he is single and shakes up the Republican Right by dating a beautiful, liberal, African-American actress.

Half the principle opposition comes in the form of a more traditional Conservative Senator, Rob Marotta, who will say or do anything to get nominated. He is primarily pandering to the party right, and a Conservative media mogul. The other major candidate is the Evangelical Reverend Bob Christy. Finally throw in a few minor candidates collecting delegates for convention influence and things still sound a lot like our current election.

Campaign issues, and the story line, revolve around racism, the war on terror, abortion, gay rights, religion in politics, and media influence. Grace meets some level of success, largely because Marotta and Christy split the Conservative wing of the party. Marotta shows us how dirty politics can get, while Christy shows us how even philosophical opponents can treat one another with respect.

This is a novel, not a documentary, so some interesting things take place, with very dramatic timing. And Grace has some things in his past he would prefer to not talk about.

The Race is a good versus evil story, wrapped in a political cover. I like the characters, the intrigues, and the moral dilemmas. Patterson can tell a good story without killing anyone. Well, OK, without killing any main characters.

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