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Shelley's Heart (Paul Christopher #8)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  230 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
An intricate and intelligent novel set in the not-too-distant future, by the author of The Miernik Dossier. The president is still celebrating his victory when it's discovered that his over-zealous aides may have stolen the election via computer.
Hardcover, 558 pages
Published May 16th 1995 by Random House (first published 1995)
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Monica Perez
Apr 15, 2009 Monica Perez rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book both because it was well-written and suspenseful but also because of the unapologetic anti-communist bias. I don't like books that throw gratuitous political slurs around, catching you unaware in a scifi book or a murder mystery, but this is a political thriller with the author's viewpoint clearly available from the start so no one needs to read it who isn't up for that angle. Furthermore, the author has both the protagonists and antagonists as members of the same part ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Denise rated it liked it
Cognitive dissonance. I'm so used to political fiction where the bad guys are invariably rich, greedy businessmen and it's the conservatives that are the bigots that a novel where elitist left-wingers are behind all the nefarious plots is disorienting, even though I tend to share McCarry's world view. Also, this was written in the 90s, back when the idea of a president ordering the assassination of a foreign terrorist was enough to get him impeached, rather than applauded. Stolen elections and c ...more
May 04, 2017 Jak60 rated it did not like it
This is, in my humble opinion, the worst book by Charles McCarry; I have read many of them, some I did like quite a lot, some less but I never stumbled into such a cockamamie story like Shelley's heart. The plot is clumsy, the situations totally implausible, the characters ranging from insignificant to ridiculous.
Just as a few examples:
@ a manic obsessive appointed Chief Justice, assisted by two loony Valkyrie paralegal, who runs private, secret investigations on the President of the USA using,
Paul Bartusiak
Jun 16, 2014 Paul Bartusiak rated it really liked it
Another fun read by Charles McCarry. Found a hardcover copy of this one at a used book sale for only 2 bucks and snapped it up. At 558 pages I was a little intimidated to begin, so it sat around a while. I'm not one to read "Political Thrillers" either, which also didn't get me to rush to it.

What fun it was to read. McCarry has a straightforward writing style, much less esoteric than, say, LeCarre, and he created a very interesting plot for Shelley's Heart . It's quite engaging, with each chapt
Jul 23, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy, america
McCarry's latest political thriller is a bit of a disappointment, too long, fairly improbable and badly written. On the eve of his inauguration as President, Frosty Lockwood is told by his political rival, Mallory, that the election results were falsified and that Lockwood should stand down. This sets off a train of events as the 2 political rivals battle it out with their supporters and legal teams. Problem is that I just didn't really get into the character at all till about 150 pages into the ...more
Jul 30, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
McCarry's latest political thriller is a bit of a disappointment, too long, fairly improbable and badly written. On the eve of his inauguration as President, Frosty Lockwood is told by his political rival, Mallory, that the election results were falsified and that Lockwood should stand down. This sets off a train of events as the 2 political rivals battle it out with their supporters and legal teams. Problem is that I just didn't really get into the character at all till about 150 pages into the ...more
Ian Robb
Sep 17, 2012 Ian Robb rated it it was amazing
In a presidential election (2004), Mallory loses to Lockwood because of election fraud that turns out to have been done by Horace Hubbard, a relative of Paul Christopher who by now is dead. In addition to charges of fraud, Lockwood has to deal with a political assassination that it appears that he has ordered (and did not). An impeachment trial is held. The reference to Shelley is to a secret Yale university society named after Percy Bysche Shelley whose members assist each other in causes to br ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Jim rated it did not like it
this dreck is the reason why I don't trust Nancy Pearl. If you like the spectacle of grotesque puppets stumbling through a cryptofacist fantasy, read it immediately.

Did you know that a Fabian-like Yale Eating club wants to impose its elitist socialist vision on this here nation, and the only person that can stop it is the super-rich Republican ex-President who is limned with all the humanistic attention to detail that is so evident in Tom Clancy's most manly fare? He's almost killed by two lesb
Jun 15, 2009 Marcia rated it liked it
I discovered McCarry about a year ago and had the good fortune to read Tears of Autumn first. It was excellent. I have now read a number of other novels in the Hubbard-Christopher series and none really measures up to that first encounter. Just finished Shelley's Heart - I'd give it a pretty good. The POV is definitely skewed. The villains are on the wrong side, but the villainy is delicious! It's a bit like like Carl Hiassen finds Washington D.C. Some pretty absurd characters and plot twists bu ...more
Jane Guyton
Jun 29, 2013 Jane Guyton rated it did not like it
I was disappointed with this book. Did not finish it. Found it ponderous, too full of detail that did not add to the plot or characters, and far too arcanely political. I plodded on for 300 pages or so because I thought I ought to be liking it, and then gave up, unusual for me. A reviewer compared McCarry favorably to John LeCarre, an assessment with which I cannot agree. I was not captivated by any character, nor was there (for me) any suspense. The irony seemed too contrived. I read the end of ...more
R. Geivett
Feb 10, 2013 R. Geivett rated it it was amazing
Reading this book now, some thirty years after its release, leaves me with the powerful impression that little has changed in our constitutionally protected liberal democracy. This is reassuring. This is my first taste of Charles McCarry's work; I'm sure to read more of him. Shelley's Heart is literary fiction in the genre of political intrigue and suspense. It's an education in political life and theory, human aspirations, and the American way of making our life together work. And the author's ...more
Jan 16, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-books-read
Paul Christopher is here only in spirit in the form of Horace Hubbard, Julian Hubbard and Zarah Christopher, the daughter he had with Catherine.
There's much political intrigue as the presidential election is stolen under the nose of Frosty Lockwood, and several plots play out.
This novel leans heavily on political and constitutional history - and it's a massive 558 pages. But it reads well, and draws you along, and I couldn't wait to get back to it when I was forced by contingencies to put it dow
Jan 05, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009, fiction
I read this book after seeing it listed on NPR's books page. I'd never read anything by Charles McCarry before and after this, I don't think I will try anything else of his. I found the plot interesting, but most of the characters seemed to be more like caricatures. Also, given the fact that he has set up a very different America, I was a bit put off by that.

I know this is loosely part of a larger series, and perhaps if I'd read others in the series, I might get more enjoyment.
Dec 31, 2013 Bill rated it it was amazing
Other than what seemed a too-rapid ending, I thought this book was near-perfect. Well thought-out plot, optimal character development, familiarity with the governmental system and simply beautiful writing -- not something you always notice in this sort of genre. I've read one other book by McCarry and want to read more. This is reading for people who look for top-notch artistry in this sort of genre.
Jul 04, 2007 Matt rated it it was amazing
Since McCarry is considered a spy novelist, his work is lumped in with authors whose gimmick is espionage. Fortunately, his novels are making a resurgence because of his focus on prose, research, and vivid, three-dimensional character development -- these elements set his writing apart from the more popular, but far less palatable, spy genre.
Duncan M Simpson
McCarry's books came up on a list of most recommended thrillers, put in a league with John le Carré. It was good, but not that good. A wonderful background of US politics but the characters felt wooden and two dimensional, there to carry the plot and motivations without really coming to life for me. In time, I'll try another of this writer's books, just to give him another chance.
Josee Schryer
Oct 04, 2009 Josee Schryer rated it really liked it
The hidden side of politics and the functionning of the american system. Fascinating while also a bit disturbing. It is fiction but so many of the events depicted or the characters seem too real for confort. The author also knows how to develop a plot and keep us interested until the very end. I loved this book and I am sure anyone who is interested in politics will appreciate the story.
Sep 14, 2010 Pat rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book because I was in the mood for a good political thriller. I was disappointed in the unbelievable way our political system was portrayed (sure our politicians are not the brightest bulbs in the box, but their not THAT stupid). The characters were mostly wooden and it was all so very familiar and predictable. This author is officially off my reading list.
Jul 02, 2012 Simone rated it really liked it
Some compare it to All the King's Men. McCarry is a very good writer but not as good as Warren. Still, really enjoyed this book. Intriguing that he sets it within an impeachment trial prior to Clinton being impeached. Great foresight.
Sep 14, 2008 ambimb marked it as to-read
Recommended on NPR as "the best Washington novel" by "the greatest American spy novelist ever." Sounds worth checking out. It's out of print until April 2009, so maybe when I get to the library...
Christopher Culp
Feb 18, 2013 Christopher Culp rated it it was amazing
Intricate and thoughtfully plotted and as usual for McCarry well-written, this is a provocative and compellingly readable political thriller. Fans of the Christopher characters will find plenty to love, but so will anyone who enjoys a good and frighteningly plausible political conspiracy. Great!
May 07, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
Similar to my comment on The Better Angels, not up to McCarry's later works - but good background for all the subsequent Hubbard/Christopher novels. Should not be read before reading The Better Angels.
Sep 04, 2007 Lucas rated it liked it
Good political thriller. The plot and writing somewhat glorifies conservative politics, but not in a way that made me hate the book.
Kevin Jolly
Jul 28, 2010 Kevin Jolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelley's Heart by Charles McCarry (2009)
Jackie Simons
Read 9/96
Mark Keenan
Nov 10, 2016 Mark Keenan rated it it was ok
Not his best. Goofy.
Sharon Holford
Dec 14, 2011 Sharon Holford rated it it was amazing

I loved this book. The characters are outrageous and the plot is intriguing. Makes politics interesting. Also makes you mad at the "system". I will read more of his books.
Andy Slobodien
Andy Slobodien rated it liked it
Nov 23, 2015
Craig rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2012
Pete rated it liked it
Aug 28, 2007
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McCarry served in the United States Army, where he was a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, has been a small-town newspaperman, and was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower administration. From 1958 to 1967 he worked for the CIA, under deep cover in Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, his cover was not as a writer or journalist.

McCarry was editor-at-large for National Geographic and has contributed
More about Charles McCarry...

Other Books in the Series

Paul Christopher (10 books)
  • The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • The Secret Lovers (Paul Christopher #3)
  • The Better Angels (Paul Christopher #4)
  • The Last Supper (Paul Christopher #5)
  • The Bride of the Wilderness (Paul Christopher #6)
  • Second Sight (Paul Christopher #7)
  • Old Boys (Paul Christopher #9)
  • Christopher's Ghosts (Paul Christopher #10)

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