On this week’s Blogging for a Good Book, I’m posting about four authors who are coming to the Williamsburg Library Theatre on Monday, March 31. We’ll be having a relaxed conversation with Margaret Coel, David L. Robbins, and Jacqueline Winspear, led by Willetta L. Heising. The event starts at 7 pm in the Theatre at 515 Scotland Street, and will be followed by light refreshments and a book-signing.
Any time someone writes about modern Cuba, the reader starts with the understanding that there is a conspiracy at the heart of the story. When they write about Cuba in the early 1960s, the reader knows that the conspiracy revolves around assassinating Castro. So how can any writer make a Castro assassination conspiracy fresh? The Betrayal Game, David L. Robbins’ latest, has the nerve to take on the subject, and to pull it off with a real kick.
Robbins makes it look easy. Even as he spins a web that tangles its characters, climaxes at just the right moment, and ends as history actually did (no spoiler there), he connects the strands in ways that defy readers’ expectations. Robbins pays such attention to every aspect of his stories – plot, characters, setting, and mood – that a reader feels the urge to whip through Betrayal Game. The difference between this story and the run-of-the-mill thriller is that his characters and plots are still memorable when you close the book – and you keep thinking ‘How did he do that?’. (But if you’re thinking I’m going to tell you how he pulls it off, forget it.)
The Betrayal Game is something Robbins said he’d never do – a sequel. Mikhal Lammeck, an academic specializing in the politics of assassination, was the principal character in The Assassins Gallery, which involved an attempt on FDR’s life. Fifteen years later, Lammek heads to Cuba with the reasonable expectation that Castro will be killed, and that he will be able to study the aftermath firsthand. Instead of observing, though, Lammek is drawn into a variety of plots (through mostly foul means), and has to navigate through them with his life, integrity, and relationships intact.
David L. Robbins is the 2007-2008 Writer-in-Residence at the College of William and Mary. He is also the author of 7 other novels, most of which examine the complexity of World War II through the eyes of people left out of the glorious narratives. One outside that stream, though, is Scorched Earth, a moving portrayal of a Virginia town torn by anger following the death of a bi-racial baby and the burning of a church. For a thoughtful examination of race and justice, this one is hard to beat. Check ’em out – and come hear what David, Jackie, Margaret, and Willetta have to say!