Friday, September 7, 2007

Karna Small Bodman's "Checkmate"

Karna Small Bodman is the author of the political thriller Checkmate and its forthcoming sequel, Gambit.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to both novels and reported the following:
The “Page 99 Test” is amazing! I served in the Reagan White House for six years – last post was Senior Director of the National Security Council – so I try to have my “political thrillers” reflect sights and sounds emanating from strategy meetings in the Situation Room, the Oval Office and confrontations on Capitol Hill.

One of the President’s major proposals, his dream of creating a missile defense system, created quite a stir (and still does). I watched as the Pentagon fought with the State Department who then fought with the White House, and we, in turn, sparred with the press over the whole idea. In the end, it didn’t matter who was right or even if “Star Wars” would ever really work. The point was: the Soviets thought it might work and they came back to the bargaining table. I saw the power of an idea and decided to turn it into a contemporary novel, Checkmate.

In the story, a young scientist invents a breakthrough technology for a defense against cruise missiles. A member of the NSC staff helps her when foreign agents try to steal her system, and a lecherous Congressman is more interested in her bod than in giving her an earmark (just trying to write an authentic Washington story here). One night our heroine comes home to find her apartment in a shambles but the only thing missing is her computer. The NSC staffer comes over to survey the damage and we see the following on Page 99:

She turned to face him. “What do you really think this is all about?”

“I can’t say exactly. But there’s a lot going on, here and overseas, with all kinds of people trying to get a handle on missile defense projects.”

“I kno
w. I’ve been doing research for ages.”

“And now you’re working on a new project that could put a lot of the boys with the missiles out of business.”

“And so you think this is an act of industrial espionage where someone’s trying to steal my idea?”

“Steal it or stop you maybe. It could be someone from another company, or it could be agents from some other country trying to get their hands on your system for their own use.”

Cammy slumped down in a chair, a sliver of fear creeping up her spine. He seemed to know a lot about this. What wasn’t he telling her? “So you think that I’m the target of some scheme and this was not just a random burglary?”

The crux of the story on Page 99? You bet! As for the sequel, Gambit, that tale involves the same characters with yet another crisis to solve: someone is targeting our commercial airliners -- they just explode in the sky. Nothing shows up on radar. No one claims responsibility. What’s the point? Is it terrorism or some other diabolical scheme?

Turn to page 99 and we learn that the National Security Advisor’s plane was the most recent target. Our hero is in another country when he gets the news. He calls Stockton Sloan, the Deputy NSC Advisor who says, “The President is convening an emergency Cabinet meeting within the hour. All hell is breaking loose around this place…. We could use you up here. How soon can you leave?”

I’ll catch the next plane back. At least the international flights haven’t been targeted”

“Not yet.”

“Uh Stock?”


“Does this mean you’re the new National Security Advisor?”

There was a slight pause. “Not sure about that.”

“Why not? You’re the Deputy for God’s sake.”

“There may be some things other than succession at play here.”

There you have it. Stick with Ford Madox Ford – he’s onto something.
Read an excerpt from Checkmate and learn more about both books at the publisher's website and at the author's official site.

--Marshal Zeringue