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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*        = Good, with reservations


****Balance of Power

by Richard North Patterson

Reviewed November 24, 2003.
Ballantine Books, New York, 2003.  612 pages.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #5, Mystery and Adventure

Not just a legal thriller, Balance of Power is also a political thriller.  The beginning had me completely entranced.  There are multiple plot threads all coming together.  The President is getting married.  Meanwhile, his fiance’s sister is in a horribly abusive relationship and is realizing that she needs to leave.  At the same time, the President is trying to make a deal with a group of gun manufacturers to require their dealers to conduct background checks and to put safety locks on guns.

Just before the wedding, the media hears about the abusive brother-in-law.  He’s not happy about the media attention….

After the first section, the book gets bogged down a bit in legal and political details, but picks up speed as it drives to the end.  Basically, there’s a legal case trying to sue a gun manufacturer and the “SSA”—Sons of the Second Amendment—who are controlling the gun industry as well as members of Congress.  At the same time, a bill is going through the Senate for tort reform—with an amendment added to make gun manufacturers immune from lawsuits.  If passed, the bill would wipe out the lawsuit.

The book is full of true statistics about gun violence, and it’s easy to believe that the events in the book could happen.  You see the many different aspects involved in passing a bill as well as many sides to the issue of gun control.  I like it that the author puts good guys and bad guys in both parties.

If you are strongly opposed to the idea of tougher laws for gun control, you won’t like this book, but if you’re at all in doubt about the issue, this book might very well convince you.  Sadly, the only part of the book that doesn’t mirror real life is the happy ending.

This is a well-written and captivating legal thriller.  The fact that it speaks to a real life situation is a bonus, and makes it all the more interesting and easier to believe.

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund. All rights reserved.

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