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Jericho's Fall by Stephen L. Carter

A CIA Thriller With a High Body Count

A review by Patrick Anderson

Jericho Ainsley, once the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is dying of cancer in his well-fortified mountaintop home in Colorado. Rebecca (Beck) DeForde, who was his mistress 15 years earlier, when she was 19 and he was in his 50s, is summoned to his bedside. She is greeted by his two daughters: a Hollywood producer who hates her and a nun who purports to be her friend. They warn that the cancer has spread to their father's brain and that, despite moments of lucidity, he is mad. Jericho himself urges her to flee because an unidentified "they" will try to kill her and his daughters, too. But he also predicts that his close friend and CIA associate Dak Agadakos "is coming to the house to make me tell him certain things. After that, he plans to kill me."

Thus begins Stephen L. Carter's Jericho's Fall, an odd but readable mixture of spy thriller, literary novel and haunted-house mystery. In an author's note, Carter declares that the book's "only purpose is entertainment...



Previously Reviewed by Washington Post Book World
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Glover's Mistake by Nick Laird

By the time you realize just what a dangerous writer Nick Laird is, it's too late to break away. This new novel from Zadie Smith's husband comes on all wit and chumminess, a buddy story about two London roommates in love with the same woman. But in the familiar surroundings of romantic comedy...


The Annotated Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame's revered children's book The Wind in the Willows is celebrating two anniversaries. Last year was the centennial of its publication, and 2009 is the sesquicentennial of its author's birth. As a consequence, we find ourselves with two annotated editions -- both oversize, both...


Exiles in the Garden by Ward Just

For nearly a century the received wisdom in political Washington has been drawn from the famous speech Theodore Roosevelt delivered at the Sorbonne in April 1910. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done...


Posthumous Keats: A Personal Biography by Stanley Plumly

Rome, November 30, 1820. John Keats, who at the age of twenty-five has less than three months to live, is writing to his friend Charles Brown in England: I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence. God knows how it would have been -- but...


Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.

Astronomers at Caltech say the Earth will last 1 billion years longer than previous estimates, which makes me wish I'd chosen the bedroom wallpaper more carefully. But Ron Currie's strange new novel raises the opposite prospect: Everything Matters! begins with an announcement that a comet will...


Border Songs by Jim Lynch

Terrorists and tourists beware: "The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative" sounds like an official vacation plan, but in typical congressional doublespeak it's designed to slow you down. Starting this month, guards along the U.S.-Canadian border have begun requiring everyone traveling into the...


American Passage: The History of Ellis Island by Vincent J. Cannato

Ellis Island, through which 12 million immigrants passed between 1892 and 1924, is a museum and tourist attraction now, "a success," according to Vincent J. Cannato, "attracting some 2 million visitors a year." A small patch of land in New York Harbor, known two centuries ago as Gibbet Island...


Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St John

You can read this book or wait for the movie, but the book is worth the effort. This story is too textured, too filled with layers of light and dark, for Hollywood to capture its complexity. In January of 2007, New York Times reporter Warren St. John wrote about the Fugees, a team of soccer...


Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Toibin is an immensely gifted and accomplished writer who has covered a remarkable range of subjects from Henry James (in his novel The Master) to homosexuality (in Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar), so it comes as no surprise that Brooklyn is intelligent and affecting. What...


Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back by Reynolds Price

After graduating from Duke University, Reynolds Price sailed off to Oxford in 1955, where he spent three years as a Rhodes scholar. During this time he published his first short story and produced a B. Litt. thesis on John Milton's dramatic poem "Samson Agonistes." He then returned to Duke for a...


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Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World by Diana Preston

Woodsburner by John Pipkin

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One Nation under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food by Michael Schaffer

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The Shanghai Moon (Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Novel) by S J Rozan

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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by P. W. Singer

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Try to Tell the Story: A Memoir by David Thomson

Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting by Kitty Burns Florey

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Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

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Thames: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd

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The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller

Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War by Robert Roper

Resistance: A Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France by Agnes Humbert

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Massey Lectures) by Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North by Thomas Sugrue

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The Flying Troutmans Signed 1st Edition by Miriam Toews

The Widows of Eastwick: A Novel by John Updike

The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

Goldengrove: A Novel by Francine Prose

Man in the Dark Signed 1st Edition by Paul Auster

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant

I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire

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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick

Intercourse: Stories by Robert Olen Butler

The Magical Chorus: A History of Russian Culture from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn by Solomon Volkov

American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent

More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception by Scott McClellan

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great's Russia by Douglas Smith

The White King by György Dragomán

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

The Mayor's Tongue: A Novel by Nathaniel Rich

The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky by Mark Scroggins

Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine

The Philosopher's Apprentice: A Novel by James Morrow

Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price

The Outcast: A Novel by Sadie Jones

The Blue Star by Tony Earley

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum

Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories by Steven Millhauser

The Invention of Everything Else: A Novel by Samantha Hunt

Song Yet Sung: A Novel by James McBride

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro by Jeffrey Eugenides

Foreigners by Caryl Phillips

Blasphemy by Douglas J. Preston

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Go with Me by Castle Freeman

How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet

A Contract with the Earth by Newt Gingrich

Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships by David Levy

Gods Behaving Badly: A Novel by Marie Phillips

Reporting Iraq: an Oral History of the War By the Journalists Who Covered It (07 Edition) by Mike Hoyt

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter

Hundred in the Hand (Lakota Westerns) by Joseph M. Marshall III

Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton

Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould

The Melancholy Fate of Capt. Lewis by Michael Pritchett

War and Peace by Leo (Pevear & Volokhonsky) Tolstoy

The Abstinence Teacher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta

Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat

The Theory of Clouds by Stephane Audeguy

Bridge of Sighs: A Novel by Richard Russo

Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman

Engleby: A Novel by Sebastian Faulks

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

The Water Cure: A Novel by Percival Everett

Away: A Novel by Amy Bloom

F-5: Devastating, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the Twentieth Century by Mark Levine

Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist by Tyler Cowen

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #07) by J. K. Rowling

Dark Reflections by Samuel R. Delany

New England White: A Novel by Stephen L. Carter

Right Livelihoods: Three Novellas by Rick Moody

Up High in the Trees by Kiara Brinkman

The Importance of Being Dangerous by David Dante Troutt

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Anne Brashares

On Chesil Beach: A Novel by Ian McEwan

The Assault on Reason: How the Politics of Fear, Secrecy, and Blind Faith Subvert Wise Decision Making, Degrade Our Democracy, and Put Our Country and Our World in Peril by Al Gore

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon

At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA by George Tenet

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter

The Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien

Flight: A Novel by Sherman Alexie

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life by Hugh Brogan

The Long Road Home by Martha Raddatz

The Lying Tongue: A Novel by Andrew Wilson

Devotion by Howard Norman

The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation by Stephen Flynn

The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers

Friends of Meager Fortune by David Adam Richards

Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel by Walter Mosley

Medical Apartheid: the Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times To the Present (07 Edition) by Harriet A. Washington

The Fabric of Night by Christoph Peters

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present by Michael Oren

The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin

Sacred Games: A Novel by Vikram Chandra

Indiscretion by Jude Morgan

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian

Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir 1964 to 2006 by Gore Vidal

Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian by Robin Lane Fox

The Uses of Enchantment: A Novel by Heidi Julavits

Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

Haweswater (P.S.) by Sarah Hall

Pilate's Wife: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Antoinette May

England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams

Lisey's Story: A Novel by Stephen King

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

In the Line of Fire: A Memoir by Pervez Musharraf

Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund

Every Visible Thing by Lisa Carey

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance by Ian Buruma

The Mission Song by John le Carre

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

Forgetfulness: A Novel by Ward Just

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens

Mommies Who Drink: Sex, Drugs, and Other Distant Memories of an Ordinary Mom by Brett Paesel

The Book about Blanche and Marie: A Novel by Per Olov Enquist

Room for Improvement by Stacey Ballis

The Night Gardener: A Novel by George Pelecanos

No Good Deeds: A Tess Monaghan Novel by Laura Lippman

What It Used to Be Like: A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver by Maryann Carver

The Stolen Child: A Novel by Keith Donohue

The Futurist: A Novel by James P. Othmer

Lost and Found: A Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

America: The Last Best Hope, Volume I: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War by William J. Bennett

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner: A Novel by Andrea Smith

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly

Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know about Fast Food by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson

Departure Lounge by Chad Taylor

Digging to America: A Novel by Anne Tyler

A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger

Sinners Welcome: Poems by Mary Karr

My Latest Grievance: A Novel by Elinor Lipman

Challenger Park by Stephen Harrigan

Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America by Cynthia Carr

A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Frances Mayes

The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery

The Ethical Assassin: A Novel by David Liss

Company: A Novel by Max Barry

The Best People in the World: A Novel by Justin Tussing

In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel by Sarah Dunant

Cell: A Novel by Stephen King

Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Gentlemen and Players: A Novel by Joanne Harris

The Brooklyn Follies 1st Edition by Paul Auster

Leaving Home by Anita Brookner

Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice by Joan Biskupic


The Washington Post Book World gives readers comprehensive literary coverage, including reviews, news briefs, and guest essays from authors.

It's a weekly package of reviews, essays, and features on what's hot in the literary world and can also be seen on WashingtonPost.com. Click here for additional reviews and live web chats with reviewers.

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