Following the success of his first book, The Tourist Killer, FC Etier has released his second, The President’s Club, in installments on Venture Galleries. When completed, the author will self-published it in digital book form. A good serials does not always a good book make, but in this case, it works out pretty well.
Julian Thibault is a wealthy, powerful man whose life is in constant danger. He has a crack security team, but when things get a little out of hand, he calls John Hixon, former FBI agent, out of his mountain retreat to help him out. In The President’s Club, Thibault asks Hixon to protect the seven members of the club of the same name. The author does not rely on goriness, crassness, or graphic details to keep the reader guessing from the beginning to end, relying instead on tight writing, unexpected plot twists, and making it clear from the get-go that none of his characters, however beloved, are safe.
In this second book of The Barry-Hixon Conspiracy, FC Etier brings us more intrigue, conspiracy theories, and intricate political web-weaving. If you haven’t read its predecessor, The Tourist Killer, don’t worry, as The President’s Club also makes for a good standalone book. It is a little harder at the beginning to try to keep up with all the characters and the plotlines, but the author makes sure to underline, in one way or another, the details from the first book important to know to understand what is going on in the second one.
One element of FC Etier’s writing which I appreciate are the well thought-out details and the well placed humor. Three in particular stand out. The first is that the book is named after a group of seven older men who happen to all be named after a former President of the United States. The second was a mention of the fiftieth anniversary of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination. The last one is in a conversation between two characters in the book, the first mentioning that he loves reading, only to be encouraged by the other to read The Tourist Killer, the author of which is a friend.
I also liked that the plot in The President’s Club, a fast paced story not for the faint at heart, felt a bit like a commentary on how big egos crumble strong alliances that could otherwise make a huge positive impact on the world. As a member of a strong alliance, Thibault is trying to make such a positive change. However, both the individual and society have to change together, with the help and guidance of institutions. And while both Thibault and society want positive change, the ideals of the alliance Thibault belongs to are greatly tainted by egos, making for a powerful destructive force.
As I read about the various sub-alliances collide one against the other, I couldn’t help but think of how governance seems to often be about different factions wanting to be correct — i.e. win the fight — rather than different groups with different ideas coming together to consult about progress. The infighting in The President’s Club becomes deadly, an interesting metaphor for the death of great movements and initiatives.
Just like with The Tourist Killer, The President’s Club needs some ironing, as some awkward scene changes and plot transitions break the otherwise good flow of the book, which a quick reread clears it all up. And yet again, I would have liked more character development; it would have made for an even more thought-provoking read. Despite this, The President’s Club will keep you turning pages well into the night and make you look forward to future installments of The Barry-Hixon Conspiracy series.