John McCaslin

It didn't take long for John McCain-Sarah Palin bumper stickers, T-shirts, apparel and gear to appear, including items featuring our favorite slogan: "McCain-Palin: A Hero & A Hottie."


Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Convention have some unlikely characters competing for attention this week: Superman, Cain and Abel, and Brad Meltzer.

The latter, a New York Times best-selling author, will be in and around the nation's capital this week reading from his new novel, "The Book Of Lies," which goes on sale Tuesday.

"It is about a man named Mitchell Siegel who was shot and killed in 1932," Mr. Meltzer tells Inside the Beltway. "While mourning the death of his father, his young son came up with the idea for a bulletproof man that he nicknamed Superman.

"And that's why the world got Superman. Not because America is the greatest country on earth, but because a little boy lost his father," he reveals. "The truly incredible part is that almost no one knows the story, because in fifty years of interviews, Superman creator Jerry Siegel never - not once - ever mentions his father.

"So for the past two years, I've been investigating this real unsolved murder," says Mr. Meltzer, uncovering "details that no one has, including his own family."

That's not all that the former Washington author, who now makes his home in Florida, unearthed in his "Book of Lies."

"It mixes in the hunt for the true murder weapon that Cain used to kill Abel," a detail the Bible is silent about, he notes. "In this time of the election, it provides the perfect look into the 'heroes' that America is attracted to. So it's not the story of Superman or Cain or hero or villain. It's the story of us.

"This is the book I've been waiting my whole life to write,' Mr. Meltzer adds. "I love the idea that Cain may not be the bad guy in the story. I love the idea that in fifty years of interviews, when they ask Jerry Siegel where he got the idea for Superman, he never once mentions his father died in a crime. And that's why the world got Superman ... because a little boy lost his father."

The author has readings and book signings set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda and 7 p.m. Thursday at Politics & Prose in Washington.


As the calendar approaches the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Inside the Beltway is reminded of the rather prophetic warning that 2008 Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware delivered during his speech at the National Press Club on Sept. 10, 2001.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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