Friday, April 1

Review Five

Big If, Mark Costello

3 stars

Although Big If has a rich slate of characters, its central figure is Vi Asplund, a Secret Service agent. Vi returns to her home in New Hampshire where she is tasked with guarding the Vice President (who is running for President) during the Democratic primary. Vi's difficult brother is still living in New Hampshire and Franzenesque family drama ensues.

Published in 2002, Big If was clearly conceptualized and written before 9/11. The Secret Service in the book are focused mainly on individual nut jobs and seem unsettled about the lack of concrete threats in the post-C0ld War world--as if the Secret Service is worried that it is an anachronism. Costello had rotten publishing timing given that an even more massive and self-assured security state exploded into being just as he released the book. So Big If itself ends up feeling like an anachronism.

I read this book mostly because Mark Costello is a Yale Law School graduate and I was rooting (in the American sense of the word) for the book to succeed. I didn't end up liking it as much as I hoped I would but still reckon it is pretty good.