Book review: “Duplicity: A Washington thriller”

Never send a boy to do a man’s job.

That’s an old saying that can be altered a dozen ways in our PC world. Bottom line: never send a neophyte to do something when experience is needed. And, it might be added, as in the new novel “Duplicity” by Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley, never send anyone in to do a job that’ll kill them.

CIA Director Payton Grainger had had it with one of his employees. For months, Officer Gunter Conner had been trying to convince his superiors that he had a better way of combating Islamic terrorism than what was already being done. Conner had written papers about it, had spoken at every meeting about it, and he was lately embarrassing himself and his department.

But Conner had personal insight to the subject: his wife and son had been killed, his daughter gravely injured in a terrorist attack. He knew too well about Islamic terrorists, so when a special assignment came available, Conner saw his chance – not only to prove himself right, but to find the man behind the ruination of his family.

As an African American and a woman, Captain Brooke Grant, USMC, was especially keen on avoiding special treatment – particularly when it came from her uncle, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Frank Grant, who wielded plenty of influence in Washington. She hated that he tried to shield her from danger; it was unfair, both to her and to fellow Marines. Brooke was good at her job and she hated being mollycoddled, so it was partly to avoid preferential treatment and partly because she loved opportunity that she accepted a special assignment in Somalia.

When the polls showed that challenger Timothy Coldridge was rising in popularity for the upcoming election, President Sally Allworth knew it would take bold, drastic action to stay in office. That was why, during an early debate, she announced that she was re-opening an embassy in Somalia, an area known to be held by terrorists.

Securing it would take guts. It could also take lives…

Notwithstanding its flaws (mainly: too much detail and too many characters, both of which slow the story down), it’s hard to cast aside a novel that includes a prison break-in and two brutal murders within the first eight pages. That’s where the ride begins in “Duplicity,” and it doesn’t let up for a good long while.

With insider’s eyes for current issues, authors Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley take readers behind closed doors in Washington, to Somalia, and into terrorist cells both at home and abroad where, like the main characters, we never know who lives and who dies – or when. The story is a bit rough (blame the aforementioned details), but its authenticity overcomes that issue enough so that readers expecting a timely, keeps-you-guessing military-political heart-pounder won’t be too disappointed.

Fans of current-events-type novels will eat this book up. Thriller lovers will, too, so if you’re searching for a cold-winter’s read, here’s your book. “Duplicity” will do the job nicely.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

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