Cover Image: Deep State

Deep State

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I really wanted to like this book. The premise was so cool but unfortunately it did not live up to its potential. There were so many times while reading I almost DNFed the book. I wanted to know how it ended so I pushed through.

I will say it finally starts to pick up around the 70% mark. It shouldn’t take that long for any book, especially a thriller to get interesting.

My biggest issues with the book has to due with the slow pace and lack of character development. I found the main character to be touch but boring. The most interesting things about her are literally explained in the LAST chapter. I also had major issues with the beginning of the book. Every time a new character was introduced the author would go into paragraphs worth of description of their past, present, and future. It trashed the pace and took me totally out of the story.

I also never fully understood how we were supposed to feel about the President in this book. The was no real good development on this character or even why he was so disliked. It was hinted at but not everyone who will read this book follows real life politics so it should have been better laid out.

The only character I really liked was Asher. Great character and development (and the first character introduced without needless backstory and future explanations... hmmm, maybe there is something there...)

I will say however the last 30% was pretty good. I was pretty shocked by the twist at the end.

I will probably try the author again in the future if they can write more like the last 30% and not like the first 70%.

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Deep State is a great political thriller filled with lots of action and suspense. I didn't really know what to expect from this one but ended up really enjoying it. I'll be looking for more books by Chris Hauty.

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"Trust no one."

3.5 stars rounded up. This is a timely political thriller released in a US election year when just about everyone is sharing an opinion, conspiracies abound, and fake news is rampant. The premise is that a "Deep State", a "shadow government...a hybrid association of elements of government joined with parts of top-level finance and industry that effectively governs the US without consent of the electorate" needs to be stopped from assassinating the sitting US President, Richard Monroe.

Enter ex Army Infantrywoman, Hayley Chill. A boxer with an eidetic memory, Hayley leaves the military and obtains a recommendation from her former boxing coach to become an intern at White House. Assigned initially to the West Wing office of the Chief of Staff, she is an outlier who manages to do her job so well that she is noticed and appreciated by CoS Peter Hall. Just as she is getting her bearings, he's found dead in his home. Was it murder? Hayley finds some indication of foul play, but has no one to turn to in that hotbed of gossip with everyone jockeying for position and currying favor with the administration. She thinks she might be able to trust a new man in her life, Secret Service Agent, Scott Billings, but is hesitant to reveal her suspicions to him or to the FBI when questioned. As she moves closer to the Oval Office, she becomes more fearful of the President's safety and has no one to rely on except herself. Is there really some sort of Deep State operation imminent or is her sense of duty misplaced as other staffers seem to be afraid of the direction the President is taking with foreign governments? NO SPOILERS.

This was an easy read that I devoured in a couple of hours. Lots of action, cross and double-cross, twists and turns and an ending that was quite unexpected. That said, I found Hayley to be a bit unreal -- as a woman or even as a human being. Yes, we want our female heroes to be strong and mentally tough, but it is always reduced a bit when looks and sex appeal and youth are emphasized. Definitely she had a lot of luck on her side despite being nearly superwoman. The novel does read a bit like a screenplay and should translate well to the screen. I have to echo others because I, too, found that occasional futuristic toss (such as "he'll go on to eventually manage a hedge fund") a bit disconcerting but not a huge deal. Most of the other characters in the book were one-dimensional stereotypes who didn't add anything to the storyline. I guess I have to say this: call me naive but I found it all just a tad unbelievable and that strained my ability to fully get "all in" with the story. I was, however, entertained and enjoyed the wild ride.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books for this e-book ARC to read and review.

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Summary: Deep State follows ex-Army servicewoman Hayley Chill as she accepts a coveted White House internship under the newly elected president. Not long after her arrival, the chief of staff is found dead in his home. Hayley finds a clue that leads her to suspect murder. As she investigated further, she stumbles upon a plan that aims to turn the White House upside down.

I was hooked from the moment I started this book. The events throughout Deep State mirror the current state of U.S. politics, which I found interesting. I was worried that it would be depressing given that facet, but it only made me root for Hayley even more. Another interesting factor was that the author included glimpses into each character’s future throughout the book. In my experience, many thrillers don’t focus on what happens once these events are over. I liked that Hauty gave more life to his characters in this way. Lastly, I didn’t see the twist at the end coming. Isn’t that what we all want from a thriller?
*Thank you to Netgalley and Atria Books for my free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

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"...white-knuckled, timely, and whip-smart debut thriller..." That's what the blurb for Deep State promises. Does it deliver? Not in my ever so humble opinion. The premise for this one sounded like it would be at least close to that sit up and take notice description, but the story just doesn't get there, and I expected so much more after reading the author's bio and seeing that he's a screenwriter. Deep State is written in present tense, which didn't bother me. I like the real-time feeling, especially in a fast-paced thriller. The problem is that this wasn't fast-paced, and it's full of unnecessary information. For example, I don't need to know what will happen with characters years down the road if it doesn't impact this story. And since it is written in present tense, what will become of these often minor characters is so much information that I don't need or want. Yet, I found myself slogging through this information that seemed like more filler than anything else while trying to get to the meat of the story. And there is where my other problem came in. As I mentioned, I liked the premise of this one even if it does lean farther toward conspiracy theories than I usually care for, but it ended up being rather boring and wordy. I will say that there is an excellent twist at the end, but by then it was just too little, too late to save this one for me. Good twist or not, Deep State ended up being a book that was much easier to set aside than it was to pick back up. I did push through to the end, mostly out of sheer determination and a bit of OCD about finishing things, but if you're looking for an exciting thriller, I would advise skipping this one.

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Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean the Deep State isn’t after you.

In a very Trumpian administration, Hayley is a young military veteran and White House intern. When her mentor, Chief of Staff Peter Hall is killed of an apparent cardiac arrest, she is suspicious. After all, he had just told her, “They want us dead!” When asked who the they is, he had replied, “the shadow government, or deep state”. He had also said, “Trust no one.” However, she must have help. As a lowly unpaid intern, what power can she wield in this battle for America itself. But will Hayley trust the right people? Will she be able to save the President?

I wasn’t too sure if I would like this book. I had never read this author before. Plus political thrillers tend to be staunchly left or right wing making for a slow slog through party rhetoric. However, there are two publishers whose books always exceed my expectations— this one, Emily Bestler Books and Flatiron Books—so I took a chance. And I’m so glad I did!

The pacing of Deep State is perfect for a thriller. It has both slow thoughtful periods and fast-paced thrill rides. And there are twists aplenty in a society, like politics, where everyone has multiple agendas. Hayley, with her rough-and-tumble childhood and prior military boxing experience, is a completely new type of heroine for our new decade.

If you enjoy reading fast-paced thrilling adventures, I highly suggest you read this book. Beware that it is extremely difficult to stop reading. It is best begun on a snowy or rainy Saturday when you have no plans or distractions. 5 stars and one of my favorites!

Thanks to Emily Bestler Books, Atria Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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"Let's go. Not enough hours in the day to save the country."

Haley Chill is no stranger to adversity. A small-town girl at heart, she bucked the odds and escaped the life of her town to join the military. Once in the service, Haley quietly rose to become one of the first women permitted to the infantry. On the side, she became a knockout success in the boxing ring. Through sheer persistence and will, Haley even beat out a future olympian in the final round of what should have been a runaway win. No matter what she is put against, Haley Chill is determined to find a way to win.

Now Haley is facing a new kind of challenge. She has traded in her military uniform for the business attire of a newly minted White House intern. As she enters the West Wing for the first time, Haley can't help but be excited at the chance to serve her beloved country in a new way. Yes, she's older than the other interns, her office is more akin to a crowded janitor closet with poor wifi, and she has some personal disagreements with the controversial new president's policies, but this truly seems like a new chance to make her mark in service to the nation that has given her so much.

Just as Haley has started to settle into the routine of her new position, things get complicated. She retrieves the morning security briefing and takes it to the house of her boss, White House Chief of Staff Peter Hall. Hall rises early each morning at likes to read the briefing before he gets to the office. Haley rings the doorbell and the seconds begin to pass. Already Haley knows something is not right. She walks around the side of the house and peers into the kitchen window. Inside, she can just make out the body of Hall lying motionless on the floor. As Haley rushes to call paramedics to the house, she spots a freshly left boot mark in the still falling snow. Immediately, she fears the worst. It will soon be up to her to stop the already moving pieces of a Deep State conspiracy from falling into place.

With Deep State, his debut novel, author and screenwriter Chris Hauty gives readers the first great thriller of the year. The prologue of the novel quickly endeared me to Haley as a character without hinting at any of the non-stop action to come. By engaging readers first with his character, Hauty imbues the novel with a depth and emotional connection that many thrillers brush over. Let's be clear, there is plenty of plot and twits to burn through and keep the pages rapidly turning, but it is the thoughtful development of the main character that truly drives the story.

As with any good political thriller, Deep State doesn't shy away from reflections on current politics. The president in this novel was a surprise winner from outside the political bubble who draws controversy from his "against the norm" approach to governing. Sound familiar? I was fearful that Hauty would use these similarities to preach his own political viewpoints. Fortunately, this is not the case. Instead, Hauty uses Haley to be the voice of unity in these divisive political times. Haley is not driven by the motivations of a single political perspective. Rather, she is solely focused on protecting the institution of government as a whole. Timely, character-driven, and full of action, Deep State by Chris Hauytty is pretty much everything you could hope from a modern thriller.

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Chris Hauty’s first novel is an unexpected and stunning political thriller.

The story begins with Hayley Chill, an army boxer defending her regimental title, finds herself facing a ringer who is substituted to beat Hayley. Surprising everyone, Hayley manages to knock out her opponent. Then, within 15 months, Hayley walks into the White House, starting her internship with Peter Hall, President Richard Monroe’s Chief of Staff.

On page 52, during Hayley’s usual early morning delivery of the daily briefing binder to Peter Hall at home, she discovers his dead body. Hayley’s suspicion of foul play is confirmed when a Secret Service agent she is dating tries to kill her.

Hauty’s storytelling skills make for riveting reading. The new President is building a close alliance with the Russian President, convinced the U.S. and Russia must prepare to stand against China. At a breakneck pace, Hayley investigates who’s behind efforts to assassinate President Monroe and disrupt his foreign policy strategy. Hauty makes the Deep State he creates seem somewhat believable and mind-blowing at the same time.

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Deep State
by Chris Hauty 

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2020 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Goodreads synopsis:
Recently elected President Richard Monroe—populist, controversial, and divisive—is at the center of an increasingly polarized Washington, DC. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. In the midst of contentious political turf wars, the White House chief of staff is found dead in his house. A tenacious intern discovers a single, ominous clue that suggests he died from something other than natural causes, and that a wide-ranging conspiracy is running beneath the surface of everyday events: powerful government figures are scheming to undermine the rule of law—and democracy itself. Allies are exposed as enemies, once-dependable authorities fall under suspicion, and no one seems to be who they say they are. The unthinkable is happening. The Deep State is real. Who will die to keep its secrets and who will kill to uncover the truth?


5 Stars

Wow! What an awesome read! An unputdownable page-turner!! I am totally hooked on Chris Hauty’s writing!

Basic plot: Haley is an intern in the White House. As she goes about her duties, she uncovers a plot that caused the death of the Chief of Staff and the farther she gets into the mystery, the closer she comes to realizing there is an organization inside the US government that is working against them. Now the plot is centered on the President and they have put out a hit on him. Haley makes sure that doesn’t happen. That is a pretty big job for a lowly White House intern.

This book is so much more than that. I like the little glimpses you get into the lives of everyone Haley comes into contact with and what they do in the future. So unique in fiction. Not sure if I have ever seen anyone do that particular technique before.

I like how closed off Haley is and how she deals with conflict. She has a photographic memory and really helps her get out of quite a few jams. There is a big twist at the end that really had my jaw dropping.

This is my favorite book of the year so far! Excellent all around! And since this is a new author to me, I look forward to seeing what else he has written in order to be wow-ed again and again.

If you love a good political thriller, suspense, mystery, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Chris Hauty, and Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

In his debut novel, Chris Hauty takes the reader on a ride with this political thriller. While the premise is there, the book exemplifies that Hauty is a screenwriter and much of the needed impact was missing throughout. Hayley Chill has done well while serving her country. Stationed in Texas, Chill bided her Army time boxing and showing that she ought not be taken for granted. When she is discharged, she scores a coveted position in Washington, as an intern to the President’s Chief of Staff, Chill receives many of the unwanted jobs, but keeps a stiff upper lip. Saving her boss (and POTUS) on one occasion earns her the gratitude of the Commander in Chief. When Chill discovers the Chief of Staff dead in his home one morning, she cannot help but wonder if it was murder. Soon thereafter, she is targeted by someone close to her in an apparent attempt to shut her up. Chill cannot help but wonder if there is a conspiracy being run by Deep State, the faceless group that actually pulls the strings in DC. The more she probes, the closer Chill feels she is to the truth, but only helps to reveal how vast and all-encompassing the threat is, with POTUS at the centre. An ultimate strike is in the works, though Chill will have to be neutralised in order for it to be effective and rid America of a controversial leader. Hauty has a good framework here for a wonderful thriller, but there are some issues that I cannot ignore. Some may enjoy the political nature of this book, while others might want to wait for the movie (as this book reads like a film adaptation).

I loved the premise of this book when I read the dust-jacket cover, hoping that it would be a real poke at the circus that is Washington these days. Things began well, with a nice protagonist in the form of Hayley Chill. She has a backstory that ingratiates the reader to her, with a poor childhood and a gritty determination to succeed. Arriving in Washington, Chill does not know what to expect and tries to fit in where she is already an outcast. As the novel progresses, the reader learns a little more about Chill’s sleuthing abilities, but also how she can make poor choices that will sink her if she is not careful. Others find themselves serving as interesting place-markers in a piece that tries to be political and a thriller with an evil cast of characters. The story had the makings of a successful novel, but needs a great deal more meat to keep the narrative moving at a break-neck pace. More politics, added deception, and slow reveals would have made this book so much better. It may have taken 500-600 pages, but something of that caliber would be worth the read. The twist at the end was surely redeeming, but does not save the overall mediocre quality. I found it difficult to process the present tense narrative, as Hauty uses it throughout and then adds odd ‘this activity would come to haunt X a decade down the road’ sentiments at various points. Perhaps another shortcoming when a screenwriter tries to move to novels. There was so much potential here and I was hoping for a great deal more. I can only hope that Hauty can find new ideas and expand on them, or turn this into a movie, where brevity is sometimes an asset.

Kudos, Mr. Hauty, for the interesting story. I cannot say that I ‘stayed up all night’, as your editor mentioned in the ARC I read, but there is some potential.

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Hayley Chill, recently discharged from the U.S. Army, has begun her new job as an intern at the White House. She is older than all of the other interns and soon catches the eye of recently elected President Richard Monroe. Monroe, a decorated veteran and controversial force (no he is not Donald Trump) is in the middle of deeply polarized Washington, D.C. One of Hayley’s duties is to deliver the daily briefing book to her boss, the White House Chief of Staff. One morning she arrives at his home as usual but when he does not come to the door within 30 seconds, she knows something is wrong. After peering into the house and seeing her boss probably dead, she looks around the house and notes a single clue which leads her to believe that the cause of death is something other than natural. This will lead her to a conspiracy amongst career government employees (the Deep State) to circumvent the rule of law. The novel is well paced and the ending was unexpected. Hauty is not going to win a prize for writing, but he has an interesting writing style, often speaking of the characters lives after the novel ends. All in all, not bad for a debut novel. My thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

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Deep State quickly pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. From the personal connections to the action and thrills, this story offered me so much and asked for nothing in return except for a few hours of my time to enjoy it.

Favorite character: Hayley Chill

Hayley is an Army enlistee who became a White House intern. Determined, smart, and closed off emotionally, she is a remarkable heroine among a genre full of heroes. She is expertly and mindfully crafted down to small details like her pre-fight habit of picking up a little rock and holding it tightly in her hand till blood is drawn. She is not the girl next door nor your best friend, but she is someone who inspires respect and awe for her convictions and strength of character.

What I Liked:

The novel is full of action and political intrigue, which are a must for any political thriller. There are very few lulls as the story moves from the activities of the bad guys to the conspiracy within the White House. Yet, there is still the necessary exposition needed to develop the characters and fill out the story. It is all masterfully woven into an epic thriller that left me breathless.

What Makes This Story Unique:

Deep State fortuitously plays on today’s headlines about Russia and their interference and influence in US politics. I can imagine people creating connections between the real world and the novel – the story has that much plausibility. I wonder what conspiracy-theorist will do with it, but that is half the fun of political thrillers.

The final plot twist, above everything, makes this story unique. I did not see it coming at all, even though it does answer some questions I had toward the beginning, and I can’t imagine anyone else expecting it. I love it when a story surprises me, and this one checks that box.

The novel features a female heroine that rivals any political thriller male protagonist. Hayley Chill is quick, strong, and in control, making her a great prototype and role model for the potential of women as heroes. The portrayal of women in literature has come so far. It amazes me and makes me cheer.

What I Wish:

The writing was, at times, ponderous with more telling rather than showing. It was particularly noticeable in the early scenes with Asher. There are also a few inaccuracies with background information on another character. These problems, though notable, did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel.

To Read or Not to Read
If you love a good political thriller, then this one will be a welcome addition to your bookshelves!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The best book of 2020! Undoubtedly so!
The Deep State is real.
Hayley might be a new fish in the pond but not your usual West Wing intern. She's a fierce protagonist, a boxing champion, so expect her to land blow after blow through this political powderkeg of a thriller.
With Russian moles, assassination plots, secretive cabals, and ample plot twists, ChrisHauty serves you a full course meal in this page-turning thriller of 400 pages.

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Hayley Chill is the female action hero I didn't know I needed. What a fast read. I mean, the political intrigue kept me up way past my bedtime, and then just when things were wrapping up at the end, there is another big, unforeseen twist. So fun to read a female lead character that knows her mind and doesn't let anything or anyone slow her down.
Hayley Chill is an ex-Army boxing champion who is serving as a White House intern. She discovers the body of her boss, Peter Hall, the president's Chief of Staff, and a single clue, which suggests he did not die of natural causes. Soon enough, Hayley is on the trail to solving the case herself. She isn't sure who, if anyone she can trust, and as a reader, I wondered just how far up this conspiracy would go.
As a character, you can't help liking Hayley. She's come a long way from her West Virginia upbringing, and dealing with unraveling a conspiracy run by a "shadow government" wouldn't be easy for anyone.
If you enjoy any of the spy-intrigue books, like the Jack Ryan series or watched Scandal or House of Cards, this book will be an excellent match for you. It looks like there is a sequel in the works, so feel free to get attached to Hayley.
Expected publication: January 7th, 2020 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

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This a great book ripped right from the headlines or should I say too easy to see in tomorrow's headlines!
.Fantastic debut thriller by Chris Hauty setting the bar high for 2020 thrillers!

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As a resident of the suburbs of Washington D.C. in Virginia, I'm all too familiar with the setting portrayed in most political thrillers, but Deep State included so much more than the typical congressional drama. After recently becoming hooked on different tv shows of the same nature, such as Jack Ryan, I figured it was time to see if books in this sub-genre would tickle my fancy, and this one in particular struck a home-run. This stand alone novel gives the reader a strong connection to its leading lady before the action even begins, and I think that is why I found this book so difficult to put down once it got going. If you're looking for twists on twists followed by more twists, and a story featuring a strong female lead without committing to a 92 book series, I strongly urge you pick up Deep State in the new year. Hayley Chill is a force to be reckoned with, and I can easily see this being turned into a film or limited series.

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Deep State is a superb debut thriller by Chris Hauty. A definite page turner that will keep you propelled until the final page.

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This book will leave you in shock, and forcing everyone you know to read it so that you have someone else, anyone else, to discuss your disbelief with. Such a great, detailed, and gripping story. You think you know, but you have no idea. What lengths will people go to to protect what they believe in? Who can you trust? I will be reading more Chris Hauty after this roller coaster of a novel.

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Deep State is set against a politically polarized Washington DC. What a work of fiction! Jokes aside, this thriller follows White House intern Haley Chill as she is pulled into a plot to kill the President. What’s interesting about this book is the role of a female protagonist, the plot twists, and the twisty ending.

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Enjoyed this political thriller. Happy to read this kind of book with a female lead as hero. The Washington setting was perfect. Excellent debut.

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