For those of you who don't read a lot of mainstream fiction, Dark Horse is the story of Eddie Quinn, a New Jersey highway commissioner drafted to fill the shoes of the Republican Party's presidential candidate, who has dropped dead 22 days before the election. Yeah, the novel never comes right out and says it, but it's obviously the Republican Party - lots of rich white guys with oil money, yada yada. Quinn turns out to be somewhat of a populist loose cannon, and surprisingly attractive to a lot of voters. It's not great literature, but Quinn's an interesting character with lots of animal magnetism (we first encounter him as he's knocking boots with a very rich, very attractive, and very married Congresswoman) and when I first read it, it seemed like a good read.
Thirty years later, I have to wonder what Knebel was smoking. Perhaps I'm too much the child of my times, and too close to the political history of those times to be able to view it with any kind of objectivity, but Eddie Quinn doesn't strike me as quite real enough and his politics don't seem to fit the times I remember. Yes, I know it's supposed to be a political fantasy, along the lines of Allen Drury's Advise and Consent and its sequels, but for me it just doesn't work any more.