Cover image for Behold a pale horse
Behold a pale horse
Leib, Franklin Allen, 1944-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, [2000]

Physical Description:
303 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library

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This fast-paced thriller by the author of The House of Pain--a Vietnam veteran known for his gripping renditions of combat--tells of a poor preacher who comes to power urging the American people to take up arms in a holy war. But a sharp-shooting assassin stands in his way.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Armageddon is mere moments away in this story about a Texas fundamentalist preacher whose call from God arrives at about the same time as his call from the draft board. Rupert Justice Tolliver has gone from sermonizing off the back of a pickup truck to the governor's mansion to the White House. His greatest campaign assets have been a small army of Texas bully boys and bales of illegal contributions harvested by his wife. As president, Tolliver has wiped out North Korea; blockaded and taunted Cuba; incited war between Iraq and Iran; and indirectly caused India and Pakistan to nuke each other. Tolliver's reign of terror is finally ended by an assassin's bullet. Interestingly, the Rhodesian-born shooter, famous for his skill at long range, is the closest author Leib comes to giving readers a character to root for. Everyone else is corrupt, timid, or both. And yet this is an entertaining thriller that projects a future just crazy enough to happen. --Budd Arthur

Publisher's Weekly Review

Plunging inexorably toward apocalypse, this expertly layered thriller by the author of The House of Pain darkly foreshadows the forthcoming 2000 presidential elections. Opening in Cuba in 1963, the narrative follows the parallel careers of Cobra, a young Rhodesian sharpshooter who is sent by Castro to Dallas to assassinate JFK, and Rupert Justice Tolliver, a young Texan on the same Dallas flight, who dreams of becoming president. After fulfilling his mission, Cobra ducks his pursuers by joining the U.S. Marines and is sent to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Tolliver enters divinity school to avoid the war and eventually capitalizes on his charisma as a radio/TV evangelist to become governor of Texas. Surviving Vietnam, Cobra returns to Rhodesia and buys a large farm. Over the years, he fights the elements and struggles to keep his land by hiring himself out as a hit man for high pay, all the while following with casual interest the adventures of the sly, Bible-spouting Texan who finally becomes the first U.S. president of the new millennium. Soon after Tolliver is sworn in, a young woman stumbles upon documentation of a shady land deal manipulated to funnel money to Tolliver and his campaign. Meanwhile, once Tolliver takes office, it becomes obvious that the Texan--convinced it is his destiny to fulfill the prophecy of the book of Revelations--is quite mad. With poetic symmetry, a secret group of powerbrokers hires Cobra to execute the ultimate sanction, and the thriller echoes Forsyth's Day of the Jackal as it approaches an adrenaline-charged finale. Though Leib's prose is only workmanlike, his juicy treatment of political chicanery, sexual promiscuity, media hijinks, international intrigue and atomic brinkmanship makes for a gripping read. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved