As readers of this blog are aware, after I expressed distress at the political biases of the authors of the spy novels I was reading, I got a flood of reading suggestions, three of which I immediately took up, with great pleasure. I also reveived a very nice email message from Jerome Doolittle, who, aside from having spent time as a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and as USIA spokesman in Laos, is the author of a number of detective stories. He very generously offered to send me the first of them, Body Scissors, in which he introduces the character, Tom Bethany, who is featured in at least four subsequent novels. Doolittle suggested that I would find the political leanings of the narrator more to my liking.
The book arrived in the mail yesterday, at about 1:30 p.m. I opened the first page to see what it was like. At 8:23 p.m., with time out to prepare and eat dinner, I turned the last page, put out my light, and went to sleep. I think it is accurate to say that I could not put it down.
I shan't spoil the book for you by summarizing the plot. Suffice it to say that Bethany is called in during a presidential campaign to do a background check on a distinguished character whom one of the candidates is thinking of naming Secretary of State. It is a great tale, but what really captivated me [aside from the Harvard Square scenes, rendered with delicious and unillusioned irony], is the progressive sensibility that infuses the narrative. It does not actually play a role in the plot as such, but it is present, nonetheless, and it made me aware how much of the time, in the sorts of things I had been reading, I simply had to bracket my political sensibilities in order to get through the book. Just the opposite is true in Body Scissors [the title refers to a wrestling maneuvre, by the way. Bethany is a former wrestler, and I sort of get the impression Doolittle must have been as well.]
I checked with Amazon, and the book is available. I really recommend it to anyone who is looking for a first-rate read with a progressive sensibility.
I am very grateful to Doolittle for having sent me the book, but from now on I am going to buy my own. We authors have to stick together!