It isn’t every day that one of the creators of a political thriller gets to ask its real-life protagonist to evaluate the novel’s plot.

But that happened when the late Billy Wireman, president of Queens University in Charlotte handed the last Soviet Union leader a copy of “The Secret Diary of Mikhail Gorbachev.” The 1990 novel was written by journalist Frye Gaillard, based on a Wireman idea.

Terry Mattingly leads