by Thomas Mallon
Pantheon, 2012. 429 pgs. Fiction.
After all these years, Thomas Mallon's novel provides us with an artful and totally unexpected reason for the missing 18 1/2 minutes on the Oval Office tapes that would bring down the Nixon presidency. And even though he adds characters, makes up dialogue, and moves his characters about on a chessboard of his own making, the story rings true. Minor characters play major roles here or are played upon by the nation-changing circumstances that explode from the discovery of and subsequent cover-up of "a third-rate burglary." What happens in these pages takes place some distance from Senator Ervin's Hearing Room and tangential, totally fictional, and historically significant characters mingle in a rich mix of high drama, desperation, irony, sardonic laughs, sorrow, and tenderness. One of the best books of 2012 so far.