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Mathews (writing as Stephanie Barron) is continuing her successful Jane Austen mystery series, but this is an author who likes to stretch. In her latest thriller (after The Alibi Club), her protagonist is a young John "Jack" Kennedy, tasked by Franklin Roosevelt with trying to figure out how the Germans are funneling money into American elections. The goal of the Germans is to keep America on its isolationist path and uninvolved (in an active sense) with what is going on in Europe. Jack, who equally battles his mysterious illness and his powerful father, is seen by most as a somewhat unpromising scion of the Kennedy family; however, FDR sees a bright young man willing to take risks, and those are qualities he can put to use. VERDICT Though this reviewer was skeptical about how well a fictional Kennedy would work, she should have trusted Mathews. Young Jack Kennedy makes for a flawed but appealing protagonist, and the espionage plot is complex and thrilling in equal parts. For fans of Stella Rimington and Olen Steinhauer. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]-Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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President Franklin Roosevelt recruits 21-year-old John F. Kennedy to be his personal spy in this imaginative, well-researched mix of fact and fiction. In February 1939, FDR meets secretly with a sickly Jack, whom one of his Harvard professors has commended as "an independent thinker," at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. FDR wants Jack, who's about to travel through Europe to research his senior thesis, to stop a courier bringing German money to America, part of Hitler's plan to defeat FDR in the 1940 election. FDR can trust few people, certainly not J. Edgar Hoover, the ambitious FBI chief, who may be bugging the Oval Office, nor Joseph P. Kennedy, his unreliable ambassador to Britain. Mathews (The Alibi Club) provides an intriguing look at pre-WWII politics, both in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a meticulous character study of the future president, who, overshadowed by his more promising older brother, is eager to prove his own worth. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn, the Sagalyn Literary Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
A striking photograph of a rail-thin 22-year-old Jack Kennedy, clowning on a street in Nuremburg, Germany, was the catalyst for former CIA intelligence analyst and mystery writer Mathews' vivid and sexy historical thriller. In spite of his poor health and the gathering storm of war in 1939, Harvard student Jack is determined to go to London, where his father is ambassador to England, to work on his senior thesis. On the eve of his departure, he is shocked to find himself meeting clandestinely with FDR, who believes Jack will be a perfect spy. Locked in a vicious battle with the unsavory J. Edgar Hoover, FDR suspects that the Nazis are involved in a plot to keep him from serving a third term. From London to Rome, Berlin, Paris, Prague, and the French Alps, brainy, romantic, and intrepid Jack is shadowed by a serial killer, steered by Resistance operatives, and inflamed by an enigmatic beauty as his high-wire investigation imperils his family loyalty and his life. Jack is beguiling, and Mathews' strobe-light, fact-infused drama of covert pre-WWII operations is riveting.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist