Protect and Defend by Jack Valenti (ghost-written by Max Allan Collins) (1992)
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America."
Clem Barkley is the Appointments Secretary to Donald Kells, the President of the United States, and is one of the president's most loyal advisors. Loyalty, however, appears to be in short supply in Washington. The Vice-President, Bill Rawlins, is planning to challenge the President for the Democratic nomination. The economy is in turmoil. America's standing in the world is tarnished. President Kells' poll number are dropping to historical lows. The President's distrust of the United Soviet Conferation of Republics (the USCR -- which replaced the USSR with the collapse of Communism) is being viewed as war-mongering. Top players in the Democratic Party are secretly planning to dump Kells in favor of Rawlins. A planned meeting to sooth relations with the new Chinese government has just been derailed by a well-timed leak from the White House. Could things get worse for the President?
Of course they can. The White House leak is traced to a member of Clem's staff who had inadvertently made an innocuous comment to a broadcaster which allowed someone to connect the dots on the President's plan. Before Clem could find out to whom the information had been passed, the broadcaster had been killed -- by two Bulgarian assassins. The assassins, in turn, were murdered before officials could find out who had hired them.
On the other side of the world, Viktor Zinyakin, head of the reinvigored KBG, is quietly pulling strings to oust the American President. Among his unknowing dupes is the Vice President. Zinyakin is acting without the knowledge of the Executive President of the USCR and is planning a major shift in the balance of power. He has made secret alliances with players in Germany to bring back the Third Reich, forming a triumverate with Japan for no less a purpose than to gain control of the world. As the chessplayer in this solitary game moves his pieces, it falls to Clem and FBI agent Toni Georgihu to follow a trial of death and deception as they try to understand what is happening the the country.
What no one but Zinyakin knows is that there is a mole deep inside the White House, someone who could play a major role in the impending crisis.
Jack Valenti, of course, was Special Assistant to President Johnson. He later became a powerful lobbyist as president of the Motion Picture Association of America. He was someone who knew the ins and outs of Washington, and the many nonfictional politicians and newsmen in this novel. Max Allan Collins, in addition to being one of the most talented writers in the mystery field, is well-known for his strict attention to historical detail. Together they have crafted a thriller that, with minor alterations, could have been written today.
Protect and Defend is the real goods, both entertaining and informative.
For more Forgotten Books, go to Patti Abbott's blog, Pattinase.