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The Kennedy assassination has been a topic of interest and conspiracy ever since it happened. A little while ago, Stephen King put his own take on that period of American history by using it as the basis for his novel ''11/22/63''. Now Michael White has done the same, taking a similar tack to King in wondering what would happen if people could go back to that period of time, but using the concept of rebirth instead of one of time travel.
Mark Bretton is an ex-pat living in New York and working as a features writer for the ''New York Courier''. He is not amused to be sent to interview a Professor Abigail Marchant, who is studying the idea of re-birth. Mark is initially sceptical; as a man of science, he doesn't believe in such spiritual things. With this on his mind, as well as the death of his best friend back in England, he gives the idea and the woman herself short shrift, until something happens to change his mind. As Professor Marchant regresses him further into his past life, he realises he was not only someone closely involved in the Kennedy assassination, but he could hold the secret to what actually happened that day in Dallas in November 1963.
At first, I felt that the pace of the book was a little slow, but then it suddenly got rather exciting all in a rush. Although this did give the story a slightly unbalanced feel overall, by the end it was easy to forget that the beginning had been a little slower, as so much happened that it leaves the reader a touch breathless. Just when it seemed that things were about to conclude, White throws in something else and the characters were forced off in another direction.
The basic ideas behind the Kennedy assassination were perhaps nothing new, given that conspiracy theories about who had killed him have been rife over the last five decades, but the methods by which the conspiracy was unearthed was a little different. White also has a decent line in the double cross, such that one character seemed to be on three different sides at various points and very few of the characters could be relied upon to act in a consistent way much of the time. This does allow White to use a little ''deus ex machina'' towards the end, which was slightly annoying, but also helps keep the reader a little unbalanced and never knowing exactly what was to come.
Whilst the story was exciting and frequently unpredictable, the writing style seemed a little simplistic. The author biography suggests that he has teamed up with James Patterson for a soon to be published novel and I can see from White's style how this would be a good match. He writes using very simple language, but with a good eye for keeping the pace high and in many ways the story is more important than those involved in it. This means that character development takes second place to plot development and it is in the early section where White is trying to introduce the characters and give you a feel for them - not entirely successfully - that the pace is at its slowest and the book felt at its least effective.
If you're a fan of James Patterson and his fast paced yet easy beach reading style, there is absolutely no reason why you won't thoroughly enjoy ''The Kennedy Conspiracy''. Whilst I may generally prefer something a little meatier, there is certainly room for this kind of novel and Michael White slots into the genre very nicely indeed and with prices from as little as 1p plus postage from the Amazon Marketplace and from 99p plus postage from eBay, this is a book that could easily slip into your collection quite nicely, too.
This is a slightly amended version of a review previously published under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk