Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three thrillers inspired by Watergate

J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine. One of three top thrillers inspired by Watergate he tagged at Kirkus Reviews:
[B]etter than most was Conflict of Interest (1976), by Les Whitten, another Post newshawk and a frequent contributor to investigative journalist Jack Anderson’s syndicated “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column. The book introduces readers to Aubrey Warder, a middle-aged and longtime reporter for the Washington Eagle, whose stories about how prominent government officials “dipped in the till or otherwise screwed the country” had burned numerous high-level, “cozy sources” and made him no friends among his newspaper’s national staff. But the Eagle’s publisher was fine with a little “creative tension” in the newsroom; and Warder was awfully damn good at uncovering sleaze in D.C.’s legislative ranks, even if—at risk to his weak heart—he did sometimes employ sex to win the confidence of women with inside information about wrongdoings. “I don’t screw my way into many stories,” he tells a colleague, somewhat defensively, “I do my time in the files.”

The focus of Warder’s latest pursuit is the swaggering Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Pommery Edwards of Kansas. Although deft in negotiating political standoffs and navigating safely through shifts of administration, Edwards is known (at least by the press, if not by the public) as “a corrupt lush, unable to function if some emergency summoned him after seven or eight.” Warder thinks voters should know about the Speaker’s weakness. Edwards’ wife, though, convinces him to back off that story—but only by feeding him a better one.

As Warder strikes up a more intimate relationship with Betty Page Edwards, he...[read on]
Read about the other thrillers on Pierce's list.

--Marshal Zeringue