Conversation: Brad Meltzer, Author of ‘The Fifth Assassin’

BY Jeffrey Brown  January 23, 2013 at 1:58 PM EDT

TheFifthAssassin_homepage_blog_horizontal.jpgCompared to the record-setting crowd of 1.8 million people who flocked to President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Monday’s ceremonies were substantially smaller; attendance was estimated between 800,000 and 1 million people. Fortunately, it all went off without any serious incident or known security threat. Security preparations, however, were enormous no matter the size of the crowd.

Some 50 agencies were involved, which included SWAT teams, more than 6,000 soldiers and airmen from the National Guard and, of course, the Secret Service, who are charged with protecting the president and the vice president, their families and others.

The protection of a U.S. president — including the threats against and attempts on the commander in chief’s life, and the questions still asked about the four presidential assassinations in American history — have long captured the darker side of writers’ and artists’ imaginations, whether novel, biography, movie or play.

Best-selling novelist Brad Meltzer is the latest to tackle the subject in his new thriller, “The Fifth Assassin.” It focuses on the assassination attempt on a fictional president and how a serial killer meticulously tries to re-create the other successful assassinations. Only his protagonist, Beecher White, a government archivist who was the hero of Meltzer’s previous book, “The Inner Circle,” can see the patterns and stop it.

Meltzer is a national presence in all kinds of media. In addition to his thrillers, he hosts the History Channel’s “Decoded”, a show that looks at historical mysteries and unanswered questions. He once created a TV show called “Jack and Bobby.” And he’s written comic books, winning the coveted Eisner Prize in 2008.

Meltzer spent much of the last four years researching for “The Fifth Assassin” and learned about much of what the government does to protect us against attacks, including the role of the Secret Service. He sat down recently to discuss his work:



A transcript will be posted soon.