Northern Kentucky One Book One Community selected local author Rick Robinson’s political thriller Writ of Mandamus as this year’s “one book”. The libraries of Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties provide copies of the book and sponsor book related events, including discussions with the author, for interested book-lovers in and around Northern Kentucky.
To be honest, I had not heard of Robinson or his novels until the selection announcement had been made. I don’t read many political thrillers, although occasionally I will enjoy one. And enjoy this one, I did!
Since the plot contains the usual twists of this genre, I won’t give away any of the details; however, I will include some of the aspects of the novel that I thought put it a notch above some of the other political and legal mysteries I’ve read.
First, more than one hero weaves themselves through the plot: Jane Kline, the no-nonsense CIA Director; Richard Thompson, US Congressman from the Fourth Congressional District of Kentucky; Sean Sullivan, an eccentric inner-city attorney with an office located in a laundromat in Covington, KY; Tiana Bolton, an up and coming young Kentucky lawyer.
Second, unlike the stereotypical politician, Richard Thompson maintains a strong marriage with his wife, Ann. While the marriage has its share of struggles and imperfections, reading a story that involves two people realistically working at their relationship is refreshingly satisfying.
Third, the story’s setting jumps around between Ireland, Washington, D. C., and, yes, Northern Kentucky! While a story of intrigue that takes place in Northern Kentucky may only seem special to those who live here, Robinson fascinated me with the manner in which his story pulls Kentucky into world politics. As with The Fault In Our Stars by Indianapolis author John Green, which I recently read, its fun to read a story that takes place somewhere in which you live or used to live. When Green references Broad Ripple or when Robinson references Main Strasse and Chez Nora, it’s exciting to think “I’ve been there”! And, in true Kentucky fashion, racehorses and bourbon make some appearances.
Finally, Congressman Richard Thompson, professes a fondness for folk music. This came as a pleasant surprise and gave him a characteristic unique to many politicians in this genre. While it may have been a minor scene, for me it became a turning point in the novel and my relationship to the characters when Thompson climbed up on stage to play The Pogues’ Dirty Old Town on the mandolin with an Irish folk band in a Dublin pub. And when I think about it, it’s not as though folk music and politics have never crossed paths in real life!
Robinson has written three other novels that I believe may include some of the same characters as Writ of Mandamus. During this novel, several of the characters briefly refer to events that took place in Romania – and one of his other novels, would be my guess.
Robinson is making appearances at each of the four Northern Kentucky libraries at the end of October. I’m going to try to make it to one of them. If I do, look for a post about it.