4 out of 4 stars
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Naked Ambition by Rick Pullen
Lies, drugs, sex, espionage, murder, corruption, double-dealings, greed and calculated manipulation are what you will find in Naked Ambition, the excellent political thriller by author Rick Pullen. At first the book is a bit confusing due to the rapid introduction of several characters and situations, but the reader catches on soon enough.
New Jersey Senator David Bayard, the Republican presidential candidate and head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is suspected of taking bribes from potential Pentagon contracts and using the money to bankroll his presidential campaign. Daniel Fahy of the Justice Department Public Integrity Section contacts investigative reporter Beck Rikki to do an expose on Bayard. Beck, who has the reputation of being the Post-Examiner's most relentless reporter, is eager for a long overdue investigative assignment. Add in the head of the Justice Department, an aged adulterous senator, his restless young nudist wife, an ice-cold assassin, and the beautiful backdrop of Grand Cayman, and you have the makings of this exciting novel you won't want to put down until the last page is read.
There are some nice added touches in the book. For example, Pullen winks at U.S. political history by incorporating characters with names similar to real people. Bob Woodard instead of Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, and Barry Marion instead of disgraced former Chicago mayor Marion Barry, will catch the attention of readers familiar with the actual figures.
Pullen's experience in Washington D.C.'s fickle publishing industry shines through every aspect of the story. He also expertly portrays the culture of the D.C. elite--disingenuous relationships, favors in exchange for favors, everyone for oneself, and the love of money and power at the center of it all. He gives a jaded but accurate portrait of our nation's capital.
People who enjoy political thrillers will love this book. Readers who tend to avoid sexual content may not like this novel, as there are several steamy scenes included.
This is an enjoyable engaging read that the reader will have a hard time putting down until the last lines are devoured. Pullen writes vivid characters the reader can envision. He uses third person omniscient narration which facilitates the conveyance of complex thoughts and suspicions each character has of the others. The reader's loyalties will change several times as the plot unfolds. Players once seen as heroes are later viewed as villains, and finally as master manipulators in a world based on illusion.
Due to file errors in the electronic format of the novel, pages 111 and 268 are not available for reading, and the text goes in and out of focus which is distracting. Other than that there are less than a handful of edits required, which is impressive for a book 438 pages long.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Read it! And then look forward to other books in the Naked series which are sure to be just as thrilling as Naked Ambition.
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