Summary and book reviews of Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson

Balance of Power

By Richard North Patterson

Balance of Power
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2003,
    624 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2004,
    624 pages.

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Book Summary

Richard North Patterson's masterful portrayals of law and politics at the apex of power have made him one of our most important writers of popular fiction. Combining a compelling narrative, exhaustive research, and a sophisticated grasp of contemporary society, his bestselling novels bring explosive social problems to vivid life through characters who are richly imagined and intensely real. Now in Balance of Power Patterson confronts one of America's most inflammatory issues–the terrible toll of gun violence.

President Kerry Kilcannon and his fiancée, television journalist Lara Costello, have at last decided to marry. But their wedding is followed by a massacre of innocents in a lethal burst of gunfire, challenging their marriage and his presidency in ways so shattering and indelibly personal that Kilcannon vows to eradicate gun violence and crush the most powerful lobby in Washington–the Sons of the Second Amendment (SSA).

Allied with the President's most determined rival, the resourceful and relentless Senate Majority Leader Frank Fasano, the SSA declares all-out war on Kerry Kilcannon, deploying its arsenal of money, intimidation, and secret dealings to eviscerate Kilcannon's crusade–and, it hopes, destroy his presidency. This ignites a high-stakes game of politics and legal maneuvering in the Senate, the courtroom, and across the country, which the charismatic but untested young President is determined to win at any cost. But in the incendiary clash over gun violence and gun rights, the cost to both Kilcannons may be even higher than he imagined.

And others in the crossfire may also pay the price: the idealistic lawyer who has taken on the gun industry; the embattled CEO of America's leading gun maker; the war-hero senator caught between conflicting ambitions; the female senator whose career is at risk; and the grief-stricken young woman fighting to emerge from the shadow of her sister, the First Lady.

The insidious ways money corrodes democracy and corrupts elected officials . . . the visceral debate between gun-rights and gun-control advocates . . . the bitter legal conflict between gun companies and the victims of gun violence . . . a ratings-driven media that both manipulates and is manipulated–Richard North Patterson weaves these engrossing themes into an epic novel that moves us with its force, passion, and authority.

Chapter One

Feeling the gun against the nape of her neck, Joan Bowden froze.

Her consciousness narrowed to the weapon she could not see: her vision barely registered the cramped living room, the images on her television--the President and his fiancée, opening the Fourth of July gala beneath the towering obelisk of the Washington Monument. She could feel John's rage through the cold metal on her skin, smell the liquor on his breath.

"Why?" she whispered.

"You wanted him."

He spoke in a dull, emphatic monotone. Who? she wanted to ask. But she was too afraid; with a panic akin to madness, she mentally scanned the faces from the company cookout they had attended hours before. Perhaps Gary--they had talked for a time.

Desperate, she answered, "I don't want anyone."

She felt his hand twitch. "You don't want me. You have contempt for me."

Abruptly, his tone had changed to a higher pitch, paranoid and accusatory, the prelude to the near hysteria which ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
USA Today - Deirdre Donahue

Patterson combines serious contemporary issues -- domestic violence, presidential politics, late-term abortion -- with an accessible writing style that has resulted in seven consecutive international best sellers. Readers seeking pure entertainment may be disappointed, but those with the patience to follow the involved plot will learn much about gun policy debate.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

This complex novel has a fascinating debate at its heart. To his credit, Patterson has done his research, and though it's clear which side he's on, he does a good job of presenting all the arguments.

Kirkus Reviews

Longer than it need be and occasionally repetitious, but redeemed, scene after scene, by bare-knuckle, page-turning, political infighting. For ordinary folk, it's good enough stuff. For political junkies, think Harry Potter.

Author Blurb Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Balance of Power is a rip-roaring novel about guns, lawyers, and politics. Richard North Patterson has extraordinary insight into how Washington works, and a complex and heartfelt understanding of the effects of gun violence on our society. This is a great read by a masterful writer.

Author Blurb Scott Turow
Balance of Power is a compelling story, fully worthy of Richard North Patterson, which is made even more intriguing by its detailed insight into the world of special-interests politics in Washington, D.C.

Author Blurb Former President Bill Clinton
Richard North Patterson has a keen eye for how Washington really works. His portrait of the gun lobby is right on–both in terms of its power and its political tactics. A must read for anyone interested in the gun debate.”

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