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      Antoine Online

      Jericho's Fall

      by Stephen L. Carter
      Our price: LBP 24,885 / $ 16.59Unavailable
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      Product Details

      • Publisher: Vintage
      • Publishing date: 01/06/2010
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-13: 9780307474476
      • ISBN: 030747447X

      Synopsis

      Book Description
      Stephen L. Carter’s brilliant debut, The Emperor of Ocean Park, spent eleven week son the New York Times best-seller list. Now, in Jericho’s Fall, Carter turns his formidable talents to the shadowy world of spies, official secrecy, and financial fraud in a thriller that rivets the reader’s attention until the very last page.

      In an imposing house in the Colorado Rockies, Jericho Ainsley, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and a Wall Street titan, lies dying. He summons to his beside Beck DeForde, the younger woman for whom he threw away his career years ago, miring them both in scandal. Beck believes she is visiting to say farewell. Instead, she is drawn into a battle over an explosive secret that foreign governments and powerful corporations alike want to wrest from Jericho before he dies.

      An intricate and timely thriller that plumbs the emotional depths of a failed love affair and a family torn apart by mistrust, Jericho’s Fall takes us on a fast-moving journey through the secretive world of intelligence operations and the meltdown of the financial markets. And it creates, in Beck DeForde, an unforgettable heroine for our turbulent age.

      A Q&A with Stephen L. Carter


      Question: Jericho's Fall is a departure from your previous novels. What made you decide to turn your attention to a spy thriller?
      Stephen L. Carter: I was ready for a change of pace.  My other novels have been large—as the reviewers like to say, multi-layered.  I wanted to try a short, straightforward page turner, a book to be read for the sheer pleasure of the story.  Thrillers are fun to read, and, as I discovered, they are also lots of fun to write.  If readers like Jericho's Fall, I expect I will write more of them.

      Question: In your "Author's Note" you write that "the problem of mental illness among intelligence professionals is often said to be endemic." This link between intelligence work and madness is certainly born out in your character Jericho Ainsley.  Why do you think this link exists and is this what drew you to Jericho's story?
      Stephen L. Carter: In researching my previous novel, Palace Council, I became fascinated by the problem of mental illness in the intelligence community, an issue much-commented on in the 1960s and 1970s, mainly because of James Jesus Angleton, whose paranoia when he ran counter-intelligence at the CIA nearly tore the place apart. I thought that structuring a story around an ex-spy who was losing his mind might provide a nice hook, and the rest just followed.

      Question: Jericho is former Director of the CIA, former Secretary of Defense, former White House National Security Advisor ("former everything" as you refer to him). You seem equally interested in how his career affected not only him but his family and in particular his ex-lover Rebecca DeForde ("Beck"). Why did you decide to make Beck the center of the story?
      Stephen L. Carter: My first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, dealt in part with what happens to the family of a man who is embittered after losing a tough confirmation battle for the Supreme Court.  Here, I thought about the men in public life who have been brought down (or nearly brought down) by their relationships with women. We always find out what happened to the men, but rarely what happened to the women.  In Beck DeForde, I wrote a character who was once "the other woman" to a famous man, and has had to rebuild her life after their tempestuous relationship ended.  The idea of drawing her into the conspiratorial web surrounding her ex-lover was irresistible.

      Question: Have you always been fascinated with the idea of spies and secrets?
      Stephen L. Carter: It is not spying itself that interests me, it is the people who do it. I have done some reading about the toll that intelligence work takes on families, and here I have tried to imagine it fictionally.

      As to secrets, I teach a course at Yale Law School on secrets and the law. We build powerful walls to keep secrets, and most of them are probably not worth keeping. Those that are, sooner or later tend to leak through the wall. No doubt there are some secrets that should be kept, but classification and national security tempt those in power to keep in the darkness acts and words that should be dragged into the light. One rule of thumb I wish all officials would follow is this: Don't do anything you're not willing to defend in your memoirs.

      Question: What sort of research did this novel require?  Did you have to investigate the history of the CIA? What it's like to work in the intelligence community? Interrogation techniques? Did your research into the intelligence community unearth any surprises?
      Stephen L. Carter: I did a lot of research about the CIA, its history, its structure, its personalities, as well as about various mental illnesses.  One thing that struck me was how much mental illness there has been, historically, near the top of the Agency. I mentioned Angleton. Frank Wisner, the father of the clandestine services, had a nervous breakdown while on the job. There are other, smaller stories, as well.

      Question: After his retirement, Jericho went to work for a big financial firm where he may have been using his former ties and connections to perpetrate a massive financial fraud. While you are clear to point out that this is fiction it does seem that many government big wigs transition to the financial sector. Should we be troubled about this tendency? Have there been financial scandals involving former CIA agents?
      Stephen L. Carter: The CIA has had its share of financial scandals, but the larger problem, I think, is the way that people parlay government service into multi-million dollar stints lobbying and litigating against the very agencies they used to run. Such conduct is not, nor should it be, illegal;  but it does not look good either.

      Question:
      Can people who dedicate their lives to keeping secrets and trading in conspiracies, ever really retire from that kind of work?
      Stephen L. Carter: Of course one can retire, but this line of work has to have a lasting effect. If you live your life not talking about your work, it can be difficult to settle into a life where you can talk about everything. And people who have been on the inside often suffer when forced to sit on the outside instead.

      Question: Jericho's Fall is set mainly in a small town in the Colorado Rockies. How and why did you choose this particular setting for the novel?
      Stephen L. Carter: I have spent a lot of time in the Colorado Rockies over the past thirty years, and it is a region of the country I dearly love. There are, moreover, many places in the mountains where cell phone service is iffy or non-existence. Being cut off from the outside world is of course red meat to the thriller writer...

      Question: Jericho's house, Stone Heights, is itself a character in this novel, one with its own secrets and surprises. It harks back to such stories as Wuthering Heights or Rebecca or an Agatha Christie mystery where the physical setting is as much a character as the people.  Did you have any of those stories in mind as you wrote this?
      Stephen L. Carter: Oh, yes.  I remember reading Thomas Hardy as a teenager, and being fascinated by the way that the house or the pond or the moor was always brooding over the action.  Here, I had in effect two "physical" characters, the house itself, and the mountains that surround both Stone Heights and the town of Bethel. By the way, the town of Bethel is fictitious, but of course bears a biblical relation to Jericho.

      Question:
      In your previous books characters from earlier novels have gone on to appear in future novels.  Will we see more of any of the characters from this novel?
      Stephen L. Carter: If I keep writing short thrillers like this one, we will certainly see some of these characters again.  By the way, one of the minor characters in Jericho's Fall, a law professor named Tish Kirschbaum, was also a minor character in The Emperor of Ocean Park. So I have kept the connections going.   

      (Photo © Elena Seibert)


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      • A rousing thriller
        From Amazon

        This is a different kind of novel for Carter, but I liked it. While his previous efforts were significantly longer and character driven, this one is plot-focused. There are many, many twists and turns in this thriller. Some may be a little convoluted, but on the whole, they work. I found the characters not being neither black not white but shades of gray to be quite enjoyable. I've read all of Carter's novels and have liked them all, but think this one will have the widest appeal.

      • Denzel Washington should star in this Movie!
        From Amazon

        Our only complaint about Stephen L. Carter is that he does not turn out new books fast enough. We read The Emperor of Ocean Park in one sitting, same thing with New England White and Palace Council. All that Carter needs is Denzel Washington to star in the movie of one of his novels and things will be perfect. Carter uses his knowledge of politics and government to keep us on the edge of our seat in Jericho's Fall.

      • Too Sunday-night-movie-of-the-week for my taste
        From Amazon

        As a former lawyer, I am fascinated that Stephen Carter, a highly-regarded Ivy League law professor, also writes fiction, particularly thrillers, in his spare time. His earlier book, "The Emperor of Ocean Park," got good reviews, so when I saw his newest book available via the Vine program, I ordered it. I managed to get about one hundred pages in before I bailed. The main character is Rebecca "Beck" DeForde, who returns to rural Colorado to visit her ailing lover on his deathbed. Jericho Ainsley was Rebecca's professor at Princeton; he seduced her and when their affair became public knowledge, she fled with Ainsley to live in his Colorado compound. For you see, Ainsley is a former CIA director, former advisor to presidents, former "everything" and his well-publicized affair with a 19-year-old student led to the crash and burn of his career. (Why, yes, I found that one a little hard to believe, too.) Diagonosed with a terminal illness, Jericho has demanded that she return to his bedside to... say good-bye? do him a favor? help him to hide or reveal some of his secrets? I don't really know why he called her to his bedside, I'll freely confess, because by this time, I'd given up. Rebecca is a pretty unbelievable character: beautiful and brilliant, natch, but apparently insecure enough to drop everything in her life to rush back to the man who betrayed her trust by seducing her when she was a naive 19-year-old college student, convinced her to drop out of Princeton (!), and then secreted her in a hideaway far from human contact. Why she would abandon her young daughter and rush to his bedside is beyond me -- especially when it's not clear what he wants from her and when he frequently drops hints that she may end up in grave physical danger due to her proximity to him. Why she sticks around to get ensnared in whatever scheme or game Jericho's playing is another bafflement. Jericho, too, is a paper cutout of a figure. He's apparently intelligent and charismatic, but he comes off as a creepy Svengali type who may or may not suffer from serious mental illness and paranoia. So much of his backstory seems lifted from a 70s spy movie that it was hard to take him seriously. The plot is slow; despite the author's dogged attempts to build suspense (here's a headless DOG in the driveway! here are shadowy HELICOPTERS circling the house! someone is trying to send Beck WEIRD MESSAGES on her cell phone! here are the STRANGERS driving nondescript rental cars!) and the attempts to mess with the reader's head (is Jericho really delusional? is Rebecca the crazy one? are the daughters in on some scheme? is Jericho really being tracked by sinister spies from all over the world?), it's just too heavy-handed and unbelievable to really create tension or to suck the reader in. One of my yardsticks for deciding whether to finish a book is whether I find myself thinking "I can't wait to get back to that book" or "Rats, I really should finish that book I started". "Jericho's Fall" fell into the latter category. You're better off waiting for the Lifetime TV Movie version, no doubt starring Tiffany-Amber Thiessen and Armand Assante.

      • Disappointing
        From Amazon

        I really like Stephen Carter's other novels which manage to be both interesting thrillers and intelligent observation of politics and of the African American upper classes. Carter is smart and writes well and I look forward to his books even though I don't always agree with his politics. This one, however, was utterly disappointing. I suspect that Carter wanted to write something fast and easy and this book is certainly that - and that's the problem. There are many many thrillers out there and many many people writing them. This one doesn't distinguish itself from any of the others out there and, in fact, isn't really quite as good as many of them. It feels contrived and reads like that novel you bought at the airport to read on the plane. There's nothing inherently wrong with that kind of novel, but Carter can do a whole lot more so this just flat out disappoints.

      • Disapointing Ending
        From Amazon

        I was really into this book--it was a page turner--until I reached the end. It was anti-climactic at best. I was expected questions to be answered, but left with more questions--I am assuming that's what Carter wanted us to feel--just like the main character, but for me, it felt like a let-down. I have read all of Carter's books and I'm hoping for a sequel to this one.....

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