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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
Ken Davenport has written a thought-provoking slant on real events in his political thriller The Two Gates. “What if Jacqueline Kennedy had taken the killing bullet for her husband, and President John F Kennedy had survived the attack on his life in Dallas in the January of 1964?” The hypothesis is intensely credible because the people who surrounded the president talk and act as one can believe they would have, and it brings their fears and ambitions vividly alive. In Vietnam, General Nguyen Khanh executes a bloodless coup that threatens America’s Cold War strategy, and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick O’Shea is tasked with amassing accurate information. Will O’Shea succeed with powerful enemies such as the Corsican Mafia, and others at the very heart of the Pentagon? Will JFK’s decision be to escalate the war or pull American troops out?
Alternative history makes for intriguing reading, and The Two Gates is an in-depth, well-characterised example. Ken Davenport avoids a rehash of the familiar Dallas tragedy and opens with the spread of the shocking news. JFK’s loyal brother, Bobby, plans to use it to oust Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson from office; Jacqueline Kennedy’s funeral proves more politically important than mourning a wife, and power-hungry General Nguyen Khanh, newly in command of Vietnam, lets loose opium in the hands of the Turks. The great strength of Ken Davenport’s writing is his ability to get under the skin of real people and show them as human, not just chess pieces to be moved to suit his plot. I found The Two Gates intensely gripping, and I recommend it unreservedly to readers all over the world.