CNN anchor Jake Tapper brings us his debut political thriller, “The Hellfire Club,” a fictional story that takes us through the halls of the Capitol Building, the most elite clubs in Washington, D.C., and to the White House itself.
Taking place in the mid-1950s, it tells the story of Charles Marder, a freshman GOP congressman who is appointed to a New York seat after the mysterious death of his predecessor. At first, things are going well for Marder and his zoologist wife Margaret, who is studying the ponies of Nanticoke Island in Maryland.
Almost immediately, the seemingly seedy world of Washington, D.C. gets its grip on Marder, who begins by doing favors, telling lies, trading support for power, and with each compromise, he falls deeper into a world he slowly begins to realize is more about bargaining morality than maintaining it. Soon, he finds himself in the clutches of a greedy lobbyist who wants to use the congressman at the height of McCarthyism.
I honestly did not know what to expect from Tapper in this political thriller. He had previously published two nonfiction books, “Down & Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency” and “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.”
That being said, I did enjoy this book a great deal. I felt genuine chills as I followed a world built on secret societies, the Red Scare, and what has become known as The Swamp. He draws interesting parallels to the current political climate. It does bend slightly to the Left, but it is fair in its criticism of both Republicans and Democrats.
The book has stories from several different eras and at times the jumping from year to year was a bit confusing, but these instances were rare and the pace of the novel kept you going.
“The Hellfire Club” is an exciting thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat as it mixes history with fiction to tell its story.