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Trust But Verify by Karna Small Bodman
Trust But Verify by Karna Small Bodman brings to life the inner workings of the White House in a financial thriller. Realistic political intrigue and suspense mirrors the current issues. The story is propelled by her past experiences as deputy press secretary and senior director/spokesperson for the National Security Council, in the Reagan Administration.
The plot has Russian oligarchs with the help of the Russian mafia attempting to create havoc within the United States. First, they attempt to kill Samantha Reid, the Director of the White House Office of Homeland Security, not to be confused with the Homeland Secretary. She works within the White House, reporting to the head of the National Security on possible threats. Having been foiled in their first attempt the Russians decide to wipe out an entire group of the world’s bankers and other prominent money people by blowing up the Federal Reserve’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Samantha is speaking. FBI agent Brett Keating, who’s investigating the attempts on Samantha’s life realizes something is going to happen at the conference and with some luck and high-tech gadgetry he saves the day.
This story is realistic, harrowing, and compelling. Combining real facts with a riveting page-turner makes it a fun read.
Elise Cooper: How did your past experience help you write this story?
Kendra Bodman: I was at the forefront of many events. For example, on March 30th, the day of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, I was scheduled to be standing next to James Brady who was also shot. Instead, I had stayed in the Situation Room. Because I was there for six years I am able to have in each of my books different threats with a villain from different countries.
EC: How did you get the idea for this story?
KB: I have a summer home in Jacksonville Wyoming and knew of the annual summer conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Board attended by financial leaders from all over the world. I also attended arms control talks with the Soviets and thought of one of President Reagan’s famous phrases. I used it for the title and for the plot ideas. After the fall of the Soviet Union there was the rise of the Russian mafia and oligarchs and it is estimated they are now involved in four out of ten businesses there. By putting these two ideas together I came up with the “what if:” a pair of Russian oligarchs who have lost a lot of money from sanctions devise a heinous plot to target that conference. Then the stock markets would take a dive.
EC: You show how the stock market can be effected by events?
KB: The villains short the exchanges, intent on making back their fortune. A book quote explains their thinking. If they knock off the world’s key money managers the stock market “would take a massive hit that crashes the market and lets us make money” in the millions. It was here that the oligarchs tell the mafia they will be watching to make sure they can “trust but verify.”
EC: You also discuss bit coins?
KB: It is timely now since they have just taken a dive. It is a cryptocurrency that can be either traded or used to buy stuff. There are companies that accept them such as Overstock.com. The reason some people use them is so the government cannot control or find them. Bad actors used it because their accounts cannot be traced.
EC: You describe what happens at the White House?
KB: Recently I was invited to lunch at the White House. I spotted the new pictures on the wall and the changes of carpet. Even the color of the menu changed. When I write scenes, I want to be accurate. I put in the book the description of the Situation Room, with the secure video and phone lines, clocks set to the time zone of where the President is, and boxes that collected cell phones.
EC: What about the description of the Washington DC restaurants?
KB: I have been to all of them and double check the menu to get it accurate. Chadwick’s has been used in a couple of different stories because it is right down the street from where the heroine, Samantha, lives. It has been a popular bar/restaurant since the 1970s.
EC: How would you describe Samantha?
KB: Smart, dedicated, patriotic, attractive, and perseveres. She has a hard backstory because she lost her parents and husband.
EC: How would you describe Brett?
KB: Strong, confident, dedicated, competent, someone willing to take charge. A hunk.
EC: It was interesting the tidbit you included in the book?
KB: You must be referring to when Queen Elizabeth was asked to dance by President Ford. Just as they stepped on the dance floor the Marine Band started playing “The Lady Is a Tramp.” What a musical gaffe. There is another story I want to include in a future book. During President Reagan’s visit to England he and the Queen were riding horses. All of a sudden, the Queen’s horse had digestive problems. She looks at the President and apologizes. He grins and says ‘that’s OK, I thought it was the horse.’
EC: You also include the quote by President Reagan, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit”?
KB: Now it would be man or woman. President Reagan had it on a plaque on his desk. We need this today from our leaders, to put aside egos. We gave it to a friend of ours who was elected to Congress. We hope things change because right now it seems all the politicians want to do is get their face on television, which is not how things get done.
EC: You also have some interesting gadgets, such as the miniature bomb pre-emptor?
KB: I have a source that worked at the DOD. I call him my “Q” from the James Bond series. He tells me of products that he wishes the government would develop. I have in the back of my mind the quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The best way to get your point across is to entertain.” I hope to call attention to different things. I remember a reviewer once said of my books, ‘Instead of calling it fiction why don’t we call it faction.’
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
KB: It will focus on the Brazilian drug cartels. Samantha and Brett will be back.
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