The Means by Douglas Brunt

 

The Means: A Novel


Expected publication date: September 2014
The official blurb:
Part Primary Colors, part All The King’s Men, The Means follows two complicated presidential candidates–and the equally ambitious rising-star journalist who is learning what it takes to get the story right.

Tom Pauley is a respected trial attorney in Durham, North Carolina, who is tapped by GOP leaders to campaign for the governor’s mansion. His bold style makes him a favorite for a run at the White House.

Mitchell Mason, the president-elect of the United States, has finally surpassed his father’s distinguished achievements. Mason carries out his administration with a personal touch that creates both friends and enemies.

Samantha Davis is a lawyer turned journalist, working her way up from the bottom in another cutthroat industry. As determined as she is brilliant, her dogged pursuit of a decade-old story threatens to trigger a scandal that could change the race for the White House.


Politicians are sleazy and shady. Who knew???

The couple of advanced reviews I’ve read for this book all said it was oh so great and a fantastic peek behind the metaphorical curtain to show what really happens in politics and during political campaigns. It was fresh and powerful and compelling, they said. It was a great read, they said.

There’s a good chance I read a different book than they did.

There’s really no plot to this one other than the not-so-mysterious outcome of a presidential election and a decades of old “did he do it?” about a hit-and-run that may or may not have involved the sitting President.  It could have been a good mystery, a real page turner, a political scandal that pulled the reader in. Could have been.  It wasn’t.

Instead we get to loosely follow the president, his opponent, and a naive reporter trying to make a name for herself through a drawn out and bland campaign. Any sort of twist attempted is pretty obvious. If we were given a reason to care about the characters, this might have been ok.  But, of course, we weren’t. There’s no reason to pull for any of these people and they’re not dirty enough to dislike. They’re pretty one-dimensional. I’ve read books in which I’ve disliked all the key players, but they were written in such a way that I disliked them so much (as was intended) that I wanted to see how badly things turned out for them. Again, this didn’t happen in The Means. I simply didn’t care what happened one way or another.

The big trick/twist/reveal at the very end was pretty obvious and could be seen coming about a third of the way into the book. I would guess the intention was to make this moment all the more “Wait! Whaaaa?” by sliding it in casually. It didn’t really work.  It was supposed to reveal that a certain character or two were pulling the strings all along, making everyone around them do their bidding, a trick no one saw coming.

 

It didn’t work. Pass on this one, even if you love politics, political theater and DC thrillers. It misses the mark by miles.

 

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the publisher for review.

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