Big If


Vi Asplund, a hearty girl from New Hampshire, grows up to be a Secret Service agent on the VP’s detail. Her vividly drawn colleagues include a gambler compulsive enough to bet on piano competitions; a philandering alumnus of the Hinckley-haunted Reagan team; an analyst who made his career by drafting plans to kill the President; and a boss exhausted from ”a solid year of food-verb events on the campaign trail, corn-boils, fish-fries, wiener-roasts….” Primary season takes Vi back home and, of course, toward an assassination attempt. The path there is sometimes messy with narrative excess: Costello glances at Russian counterfeiters, political canvassers, suburban adulterers, and dot-com kids. But in delineating Vi’s fraternity of professional paranoids, he cannily wrings hilarity from dread. B+

Big If
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