Saturday, March 3, 2018

Book Review: 'CapWar ELECTION' by Brandt Legg

One of the reasons author Brandt Legg has been so successful in his writing and publishing and selling his ten books to date is his magisterial management of his website. From his biographical data we learn that he is ‘a former child prodigy who turned a hobby into a multi-million dollar empire. At eight, Brandt's father died suddenly, plunging his family into poverty. Two years later, while suffering from crippling migraines, he started in business. National media dubbed him the "Teen Tycoon," but by the time he reached his twenties, the high-flying Legg became ensnarled in the financial whirlwind of the junk bond eighties, lost his entire fortune . . . and ended up serving time in federal prison for financial improprieties.’ Or as Brandt shares, ‘Twenty-five years ago, sitting in a hot, humid federal prison cell in Virginia, I first dreamed of being not just a writer, but a writer who could earn a living, support a family and keep writing. But I had dropped out of high school, having only completed tenth grade English. As I sat on that metal cot, penniless and heavily in debt, with almost a year left on my sentence, it seemed an impossible dream. Still, for more than two decades, while doing everything but writing, I somehow kept the dream alive. Amazon's KDP changed everything.’ One year later he began anew in retail and real estate. In the more than two decades since, his life adventures have led him through magazine publishing, a newspaper column, photography, FM radio, CD production and concert promotion.’ He is also a gifted landscape photographer.

At first glance it appears that CapWar ELECTION is extremely timely, reflecting the nation’s political corruption and fake news and the onerous man at the top. Brandt offers a word about this book before the story begins: ‘Because the world seems so polarized these days, and so much becomes political, I thought it would be a good idea to say a few words up front. This is a political thriller. It is fiction. I do not necessarily agree with the views of the characters in the story. The action takes place during the next presidential election, sometime after Trump. As much as possible, I tried to avoid current politics.’

Another of the reasons Brandt’s thrillers/suspense novels work so well is his ability to subtly let us in on the tenor of the tale from the first few paragraphs – ‘The five individuals had flown separately on private jets to the remote island. No one knew they were there. Each of them had obtained a certain amount of fame, and were used to seeing their names in the media. However, if their attendance were to be discovered, it would not only be disastrous for their reputations, but would also likely mean a long prison sentence. They sat at the large, round, Bolivian rosewood and mahogany table adorned with an inlaid, classic map compass of holly and ebony. “Thank you for coming,” one man said, framed by the floor-to-ceiling windows providing a 360-degree view of the Pacific. “We all know the dangers we face. We have planned and built NorthBridge for several years, using every form of secrecy technology there is. Now we’re ready. From this moment forward, we shall only address each other as our member names, our ‘also known as’ identities. I am, as you know, AKA Washington.” “There’s no chance the NSA, or anyone else, for that matter, can listen in on us?” AKA Hancock asked. “Not here,” AKA Washington assured him, also making eye contact with each of the others. “Now, it’s time for the final vote. Our point of no return.” “Because we’re talking about more than protesting the government,” said AKA Jefferson, one of the two women present. “This is about civil war, revolution . . . overthrowing the United States government.” AKA Washington nodded. “I thought we were planning to avoid violence,” AKA Adams said, clearly trying not to sound argumentative. AKA Hancock laughed. “That will not be possible.” “There have been other successful transitions that occurred without violence; the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the Rose Revolution in the nation of Georgia—” “Tiny countries removing dictators,” AKA Hancock interrupted. “We’re going to take over the world’s oldest democracy, a nation with the most powerful military the planet has ever known.”

As Book 1 of his CapStone Conspiracy series Brandt’s synopsis pulls the story together well: ‘The most tumultuous US presidential election in history, the worst-ever domestic terror threat, and corruption strangling the very heart of America’s democracy . . . it is all insignificant as the CapStone conspiracy threatens everything. What if you could become President of the United States? What would you be willing to do for the power? What if there were no choice? Hudson Pound, a common man with no political ambitions and no baggage, seemed the perfect candidate. They were convinced he could easily be controlled. They were wrong. By the time he understood, and they realized their mistake, it was too late. The truth is your vote doesn’t count. The truth is you really aren’t free. The truth is a bigger lie than you can believe. The truth is you believe it anyway. The truth hurts . . . especially when it lies.’

Read one of Brandt’s novels and it is likely you’ll reach for the next in sequence. Fine writing in a genre that often leaves us wanting more. Brandt supplies it. Grady Harp, February 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.