Novel Review: The Plot To Kill The President by Jack Pearl


President Harmon Stevens is a liberal who is looking to reign in the influence of the Military-Industrial complex and the CIA.  So, of course, it’s decided that the President must be taken care of.

Fortunately for the conspirators, back when Stevens was in the army, he took part in the court martial of a soldier named Paul.  Paul was given a dishonorable discharge on account of killing enemy POWs.  The reader is told that Stevens shouted, “You have the Mark of Cain on you!,” which …. okay.  I guess it’s possible that someone outside of 17th century Massachusetts spoke like that.  Now, Paul spends all of his time feeling bitter and watching cartoons.  He’s a Bugs Bunny fan because he believes that Bugs is a sociopath, just like him.  (Personally, I think Bugs is just a force of chaos.  Sociopath is a bit extreme.)  One day, Paul’s cartoon watching is interrupted by the opportunity to take part in a plan to take out Stevens.  However, Paul soon discovers that he’s being set up to be a patsy, much like Lee Harvey Oswald.  Will Paul risk his life to reveal the truth?

The Plot To Kill The President is one of the many paperbacks that I found in my aunt’s collection of old books.  It was originally published in 1972 and it’s very much a book that was inspired by the Kennedy assassination and the conspiracy theories surrounding it.  Paul is a disillusioned American.  It’s not just that he has a personal grudge against the President.  It’s that he no longer believes in the promise of America and, as a result, he has no problem with the idea of betraying it.  It’s not until an awkwardly written date with a recently naturalized citizen that Paul starts to realize that America can be saved.  (How awkward is the encounter?  At one point, Paul’s date recites the pledge of allegiance in the middle of a restaurant.)

Anyway, it’s a fairly silly and overheated book.  It’s written in the first person, so we’re not only subjected to Paul as a character but we’re also forced to spend way too much time in his head.  Paul is one of those people who has a lot of ideas but none of them are particularly interesting.  Before I started writing this review, I looked up the book online and I came across someone speculating that Jack Pearl was a pen name for Jack Ruby!  Actually, Jack Pearl was a journalist who wrote several paperback thrillers.  He also wrote a non-fiction book about the JFK assassination, in which he supported the idea that Oswald was a part of a larger conspiracy.  That’s not surprising.  The Plot To Kill The President was clearly written by a true believer, even if it’s never as convincing as it tries to be.

Probably the most interesting thing about the novel is that the copy that I read had a cigarette advertisement inserted into the middle of it.  It was for Kent cigarettes and featured attractive people laughing while holding cigarettes.  They all had perfectly white teeth, without a hint of nicotine staining.  I’ve noticed that quite a few 70s paperbacks came with cigarette ads.  I always wonder how effective they were.  In 1972, was anyone reading The Plot To Kill The President and thinking to themselves, “Damn, I need a cigarette?”

One response to “Novel Review: The Plot To Kill The President by Jack Pearl

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 7/4/22 — 7/10/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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