Review of Evil Town by J. David Bethel

Evil Town Book Cover

Published February 2012

Genre: Political Thriller


Evil Town by J. David Bethel

Book Description halfsize

The wife of popular Florida Congressman (and prospective Senatorial candidate) Clegg Caffery is murdered. FBI Special Agent Matt Thurston begins an investigation that leads him from the Pentagon to the small town of Clewiston, Florida in search of a photographer responsible for the photo found in the murdered woman’s hand. He arrives too late. The man has committed suicide. Although Thurston uncovers a strange and suspicious story about the dead photographer that he believes is worthy of continued investigation, he is abruptly steered away from the case by his superiors.

Angered by this turn of events, Thurston enlists the assistance of two reporters. With their involvement, he begins to peel away layers of lies and deceit hiding the truth about the murder. Along the way, Thurston slowly unravels a complex weave of story lines that includes a sex for hire plot involving the President’s wife; an attempt by computer magnate Norman Bremen to subvert the workings of Congress to ensure the survival of his sugar interests in Florida; and the revelation of a cover-up of a war crime in Vietnam that threatens the Presidency.

Although Evil Town is a work of fiction, it is based on historical and current events. The Vietnam element of the plot delves into the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at Co Luy. This occurred on the same day as the My Lai killings and happened as described in the novel. The military and political cover-up of the incident detailed in Evil Town is an interpretation of actual events that relegated Co Luy to the back pages of history.

The description of the political maneuvering related to the restoration of the Everglades, and to the “sugar wars” in Florida, is a dramatization of the intrigue currently being played out by power brokers, the media and Congress on this issue.

While it should come as no surprise that the drug war can be managed and waged for political purposes – a subplot in Evil Town – it is the subtleties of international politics that often allow this to happen. The novel provides insight on how this is possible.

Through it all, Matt Thurston and his allies match wits with the most powerful in Washington putting themselves in harm’s way. Truth, honor and justice are slippery concepts in this story of politics and fragile human relationships.

Book Review 50 percent

David Bethel has created a fascinating fictitious thriller that takes readers into the dark, seamy hidden world of backdoor Washington politics where influential characters become players in a ruthless high stakes game involving scandal, blackmail, and cover-ups. Those who become ensnared in this tangled web of deception become susceptible to manipulation and corruption.

After the murder of a high-profile politician’s wife, Joanna Caffery, FBI Special Agent Matt Thurston begins to uncover the covert power plays already in motion.  Although Joanna’s murder seems to be a closed case, Matt finds numerous holes in the investigation and has too many unanswered questions to just walk away even though his superiors have ordered him to do so. With the help of an aspiring journalist and a seasoned reporter, Matt begins a search for the truth behind what really happened to Joanna. Working together they expose a complex plan that interweaves environmental issues, international drug operations, and an explosive cover-up from the Vietnam War era.

The story is narrated from multiple characters’ perspectives, and all of the various story threads clearly tie together by the end of the book to create a unified well-written plot that is unsettling yet believable.  The storyline is engaging, suspenseful, and kept my interest until the very end.

If you are a fan of the thriller genre, you should definitely check out Evil Town. I found  it to be an enthralling and memorable reading experience.

I received a copy of this book from the author to provide a fair and honest review.


top of the mountain copy

About the Author 50 percent

J. David Bethel is a writer of fiction and non-fiction.  He has been published in popular consumer magazines and respected political journals.  He is the author of Evil Town, a novel of political intrigue that has received high praise from Washington opinion leaders, and is one of only a few novels that has been rewarded with Five-Stars by all readers who provided reviews for the Kindle site.

Mr. Bethel spent 35 years in politics and government.  He served in the Senior Executive Service as a political appointee where he was Senior Adviser/Director of Speechwriting for the Secretary of Commerce; directed speechwriting offices for other Cabinet officials, serving as Chief Speechwriter to the Secretary of Education; and lead speechwriter in the Department of Transportation’s Office of Policy and International Affairs.

He also served as press secretary/speechwriter to members of U.S. Congress.  Bethel authored the speech given by Senator Paul Laxalt (R-Nevada) nominating then-Governor Ronald Reagan as the GOP candidate for President.

Mr. Bethel works as a media consultant for a number of prominent communications management firms, including Burson Marsteller and The Wade Group.  He writes speeches, opinion editorials and Congressional testimony for CEOs of the nation’s largest corporations, including the Monsanto Corporation, Hilton Hotels Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Lines.  His op-ed pieces have appeared in The Washington Post and other prominent newspapers around the country.

J. David Bethel graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Tulane University and lives in Miami, Florida.

What Others Are Saying About Evil Town

Most novels about Washington frustrate those of us who live and work in the Capital City. Not so with David Bethel’s novel. He knows Washington. He knows politics and the personalities. Bethel brings us a beautifully written inside Washington page-turner. A true joy to read. 
Michelle Laxalt
Contributor, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN

Evil Town captured the dirty underbelly of a city filled with bloated egos, big money, greed and power. David captures the essence of what is often missed by those that have not lived and breathed the high octane air in our Nation’s Capital. I speak from experience having spent 12 years in the US House. For every character in David’s “Evil Town” I can give you the name of a real, live person that fits the depiction exactly. In fact, I found myself trying to figure out what real life person David was using to create his characters. There is even one character that is a combination of a couple of different people. (You might want to see if you can figure out which one that is!) For a page turner and a good read, pick up a copy of “Evil Town”, fill a glass with your favorite relaxation beverage and settle down to an evening of fantastic reading adventure.
Former Congressman James Lighfoot

Having worked on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch, this book rings very true. It provides a gripping insider’s take and should be on the must read list for anyone who wants to understand the real Washington.
W. Bruce Weinrod
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

David’s writing reminds me of Elmore Leonard, but unlike Leonard whose characters and plots are on the verge of fantasy, David writes about people with whom you can relate in situations that are entirely believable.
Terry Wade
CEO The Wade Group
Former Washington Bureau Chief, DonRey Media

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