Lady Liberty is very nearly a perfect read. A couple of plot holes and a little less romance than I would have liked kept me from granting DIK status. That said, if you are looking for an over-the-top, fast-paced political techno thriller with a tempting romance on the side, boy, have I got a book for you.
Remember Harrison Ford’s kick-ass president in Air Force One? Well, get ready for the spunkiest, most determined, smartest, bravest, calmest under fire, most altruistic, hottest looking vice president on the planet. . . and she’s a woman! Sybil Stone (code name Lady Liberty), thirtysomething, blond, beautiful, and brainy, is a lady on a mission. As the veep who refuses to sit in the president’s shadow, she’s heavily involved with important causes, the most pressing of which is the world’s hungry children. At the beginning of the story, Sybil is in Geneva trying to keep two antagonistic countries from blowing each other to bits. Sybil’s reputation is such that nobody has ever been able to get these two leaders together, but they trust her integrity to the point they are willing to bargain with her as mediator. However, right in the middle of negotiations, Sybil is called home. A briefcase is handcuffed to her wrist, it’s contents the one thing that can prevent WWIII. It’s Thursday; she has until midnight Saturday to save the world from certain nuclear annihilation.
At her side is uber-agent Jonathan Westford, 6’4″ of solid muscle and sharp wits. And he’ll need those wits when the plane carrying him and Sybil Stone back to D.C. is sabotaged and he and the lady veep end up in a Florida swamp with good guys and bad guys and alligators all hunting them. While Jonathan loves his country and is willing to die for it, he loves Sybil Stone even more . . . he’s been quietly in love with her for years.
And so, the race is on. Can Jonathan get Sybil back to D.C. in time to save the world? Will either of the two terrorist groups, Ballast or PUSH, find them and kill them first? And if they do get back in one piece, whom can they trust since it’s obvious somebody high up in the administration is a traitor?
There is an enormous cast of characters in the story and all play their part. I had to get into the book quite a ways before I sorted them all out, but after I did, it was interesting to watch them move through the political system. The author apparently has the same jaded view of politicians and the political machine as I do, and the same hope that there are at least a few out there who are the real thing. Sybil Stone is the real thing. She proves it over and over, until the lives of millions literally hang in the balance and only her willingness to do whatever it takes, and Jonathan’s quick mind, are left to save the day.
The book is a real page-turner with a count-down beginning every chapter. Even with all the characters involved, the book moves quickly right up to its exciting climax. I was actually on the edge of my chair turning pages. That doesn’t happen very often for me. The evil-doers are as complex as the good guys, and the seemingly insider’s view of The Hill is fascinating, if not entirely surprising. As far as the intricate technological stuff goes, I have no idea how accurate, plausible, or feasible any of it is, but it worked for me because, as with Air Force One, I just let go and enjoyed and tried not to think too hard about how realistic some things were.
As for the love story, both Jonathan and Sybil are afraid to fall in love for thoroughly believable reasons, but they manage it, somehow, amidst all the chaos. If you remember Speed, men thought it was an action flick, but every woman knows it was really a love story. Same here, to a lesser degree. Two people, thrown together under extreme circumstances, manage to find that place within each other where they fit. Had that love story been developed a bit more, I would have been even more enthralled with the book.
There were some things that seemed totally implausible to me (even in this kind of story) and some situations I didn’t thoroughly buy, as well as characters whose treason would probably have been sniffed out long before they got where they were, but still, if you just close your eyes and suspend belief, it all hangs together pretty well.
The writing is good; the action scenes wholly there. If you like this kind of thriller, I’m here to recommend it. I’m not much on political techno thrillers myself, but this one grabbed me and kept me. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.