Fate of the Union is the second novel—after Supreme Justice (2014)—featuring former Secret Service Agent Joe Reeder and current FBI Agent Patti Rogers written by Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens. Reeder is popularly known as an American hero—a notion he chafes from—for saving the lives of a President and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In retirement he operates a successful investigative and security firm, and, as the story opens, Joe is concerned by a voicemail from a former Secret Service colleague named Chris Bryson—
“Call this number when you get this. Life and death, brother—don’t let me down.”
Chris is a professional, ex-Secret Service working a one horse private eye shop, not easily panicked. Joe returns the call with no response. He hears nothing until his wife finds him at Arlington National Cemetery and tells him Chris was found dead at a cheap motel, hanging by a belt from the shower rod. Chris’s wife doesn’t believe it is suicide, and asks Joe to investigate. The only clues are Chris’s uncharacteristic nervousness the few days before his death, and a single word uttered to his wife: “sink.”
The setting is Washington, D. C. of the late 2020s, and the story, while not political, is very much a political thriller. The political landscape is much like our own—non-cooperative partisanship as the parties splinter away from each other and the moderate middle—and acts as both antagonist and battlefield. The story is larger than a simple murder as suicide, and involves a shady cast of characters, including a Warren Buffet-style billionaire, a Department of Defense contractor, and a nasty psychopath. It is something of a mix between television’s Criminal Minds and a Robert Ludlum novel. But better than either because of its ability to surprise, and make the reader believe.