NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – This week’s summer Beach Reads offering is the newest political thriller from author Brad Thor, who we also spoke with last year.
It’s called “Hidden Order” and it centers around the Federal Reserve. If you think the Fed isn’t interesting fodder for a thriller, check this book out to see just how wrong you are.
WCBS 880′s Pat Farnack spoke with Thor about the book, which hits store shelves July 9.
PF: You know Brad, I was reading about, I guess, how psychic you are, because last July when you were promoting that book, you predicted that we would be talking about government surveillance more and more and we certainly are.
BT: Absolutely! So, last summer’s thriller was called “Black List” and I based that book on what I saw being the next big thing in the public square we’d would be talking about – the explosion in government surveillance. And I said “great backdrop for a thriller.” That’s exactly what I am trying to do with the new book because I think “Hidden Order” revolves around a very, very interesting thing that will be the next big thing we are talking about.
PF: Now, on the surface, you wouldn’t think that the Federal Reserve would be the stuff of thrillers, but you say, “Ahh.”
BT: It’s interesting because I write about the NSA, the CIA, I do all of this international intrigue and right after 9/11, I was stranded on the east coast because planes stopped flying. I was supposed to be going overseas for vacation with my wife. And we ended up down in Georgia on Jekyll Island of all places, and that’s where the Federal Reserve was born. It was given birth to by a group of New Yorkers that snuck out of New York one November night back in the early 1900s, and left out of a tiny train station, off a rainy platform in Hoboken, New Jersey. They didn’t want anyone to know where they were going. When I heard this mystery down on Jekyll Island and I started learning more about everything that is behind [it] and how purposely the Fed doesn’t want people to know what it does, I said, you know, this is fertile ground for a thriller. The more I dug into it, Pat, the more I realized I didn’t have to make up a lot of stuff for this book because there is so much unbelievable stuff around it. In essence, this is a thriller that used that as just a very, very fascinating backdrop.
PF: So give us a thumbnail sketch, if you would, of the story behind “Hidden Order.”
BT: “Hidden Order” has to revolve around the Federal Reserve losing the head, the Fed chair, if you will. There are five candidates to replace the Fed chair and they all go missing. But as the plot unfolds and they’re looking for where these missing candidates are, they find out there is an ever bigger player involved, someone who is even behind the Fed, pulling the strings and manipulating things there. And it’s a very fun, great, great beach read.
PF: Oh, it sounds great. Do you write to do more than just get a story out? Do you also write to illuminate, as it sounds like this is?
BT: Absolutely. That’s what I wanted to do with the NSA and I covered a lot of the databases the NSA is using in last summer’s thriller, things that people haven’t even started talking about yet with this NSA scandal and we’re gonna get there. But with this book, yes, I wanted to do that. The Fed has been around now a hundred years. This is its hundredth anniversary. What’s interesting is I think the Fed is benefiting from all of these scandals in Washington, D.C. because it’s preventing people from realizing “Wow, the Federal Reserve has been around for a hundred years now.” Most people don’t know that there is nothing federal about the Federal Reserve. It poses as an arm of the government, but it’s about as Federal as Federal Express and it doesn’t have any reserves at all, unlike a bank is supposed to.
PF: Also, it seems to me that isn’t the Federal Reserve really outside of the checks and balances that are supposed to be set up in this country?
BT: Absolutely. For a guy who writes political thrillers, Pat, that is a lot of fun to tackle because they are completely unaccountable to the American people. It’s interesting. It affects each of us as Americans every single day, yet you and I don’t have any say in how it’s run.
PF: Could Edward Snowden have sprung from one of your thrillers?
BT: It’s interesting. He definitely could have, but this whole thing with Snowden and the NSA, there are some very big holes here, some big question marks looming over this whole quote unquote, “Snowden guy” that just don’t make any sense. You want to lament the intrusion in freedoms by the United States government and you run off to China to do that. There is a bunch that doesn’t make sense, but yes, this is the kind of thing. I don’t know if you heard about shortly after the whole Snowden thing broke, there was a guy on a flight back to Newark who was yelling on the plane that he was a government employee, he had additional information that the CIA was trying to kill him and that just happened the guy really is, from all news accounts, a real government employee. So, this Snowden NSA thing just gets more and more fascinating everyday.
PF: As a writer of thrillers, you must be just smiling broadly. It seems that art is imitating life is imitating, I don’t know, art! And it goes round and round.
BT: My cup definitely runeth over as far as the stories are concerned, but I really see that as my job. A thriller writer’s job is to beat the headlines. It’s to give you a book that is so plausible. I like to call it faction, where you don’t know where the facts end and the fiction begins. You read the books saying, “No way this could happen, no way this could happen” and then suddenly it is happening and it is happening right on your doorstep.
PF: So, leave us with a sentence or two that will get people to say, “Oh, I have to know what happens! I have to pick up ‘Hidden Order.’”
BT: Well, it’s interesting because as I was doing all this research on the Fed, I found a quote from President Kennedy and that is what I open the book with, which is, “Things don’t happen, things are made to happen.” And that’s how “Hidden Order” starts.