Reviews for The Hellfire Club

by Jake Tapper

Publishers Weekly
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CNN¿s chief Washington correspondent Tapper (The Outpost) makes his fiction debut with an intriguing if uneven political thriller set during the McCarthy era. In December 1953, a New York seat in the House of Representatives becomes vacant upon its occupant¿s mysterious death. Charlie Marder, a Columbia University academic and WWII veteran, is appointed to fill it after some backstage maneuvering from his well-connected father, a Manhattan power broker. Marder and his zoologist wife, Margaret, make the move to D.C., which is in the grips of Senator Joseph McCarthy¿s Red Scare, as well as the dual shining lights of the Kennedy brothers. It¿s soon clear that Marder is more pawn than player in a political chess game, even when he tries to stand up against money being funneled to a company that produced shoddy gas masks during the war. He makes friends with the veterans on Capitol Hill, joining them in liquor-soaked poker games. Tapper, whose intimate knowledge of Washington is undeniable, initially spends more time building up the Communist-hunting ambience of the 1950s than developing the plot, but once Marder closes in on a secret society and its tentacles within the government, the action rapidly picks up. Fans of well-researched historicals will be rewarded. Author tour. Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (Apr.)

Library Journal
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[DEBUT] Political junkies will thrill to this journey into the sordid months of 1954 when Sen. Joe McCarthy was steamrolling civil rights and Puerto Rican nationalists shot at congressmen on the floor of the House of Representatives. Young veteran Charlie Marder is named to a vacant House seat and starts out strong by lobbying against federal funds being given to a business that made shoddy war equipment. He awakens the demons of a modern Hellfire Club whose members seek to control the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower had warned against. While rubbing elbows with the Kennedys, Estes Kefauver, Roy Cohn, and other notables of the era, Charlie puts his own moral compass to severe stress. His wife, a zoologist doing fieldwork with the ponies of the Chesapeake Bay, adds a perky fillip to the plot as she stands by her man. Verdict Tapper (The Outpost), celebrated for his distinguished journalism career, has earned his spurs and white hat in this gunslinging saga through the underbelly of American government. Any District of Columbia fan will recognize his deep knowledge of congressional lore and local geography. Close to a 50-50 balance between fact and fiction, this debut will have readers calling for more fiction from Tapper's writerly pen. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/17.]-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.