- Grace, Tom.
The Liberty Intrigue.
Unknown: Dunlap Goddard, 2012.
This novel is a kind of parallel-universe account
of the 2012 presidential election in the United States.
Rather than the actual contest, featuring a GOP
challenger who inspires the kind of enthusiasm
as week-old left-over boiled broccoli, here an
engineer, Ross Egan, who has spent his adult life outside the U.S.
and shared the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a bloody
conflict in an African nation and helping to bring about
an economic renaissance for its people, returns to the
land of his birth and is persuaded to seek the
presidency in a grass-roots, no-party bid.
Intrigue swirls around the contest from all sides. The
incumbent and his foreign-born billionaire speculator
backer launch an “operation chaos” intervention
in open primary states intended to ensure no Republican
arrives at the convention with a majority; a shadowy
Internet group calling itself “WHO IS I” (based
upon the grammar, I'd start with looking at those who
frequent the Slashdot site) makes its presence known
by a series of highly visible hack attacks and then
sets itself up as an independent real-time fact-checker
of the pronouncements of politicians. Opposition
research turns up discrepancies in the origin of
Egan's vast fortune, and a potentially devastating
secret which can be sprung upon him in the last days
of the campaign.
This just didn't work for me. The novel attempts to be a
thriller but never actually manages to be thrilling. There
are unexplained holes in the plot (Egan's energy invention
is even more airy in its description than John Galt's motor)
and characters often seem to act in ways that just aren't
consistent with what we know of them and the circumstances
in which they find themselves. Finally, the novel ends with
the election, when the really interesting part would be
what happens in its aftermath. All in all, if you're looking
for a U.S. presidential election thriller and don't mind it
being somewhat dated, I'd recommend
Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith's
Hope (March 2002)
instead of this book.
I use “Unknown” as the publisher's domicile in
the citation above because neither the book nor the
on the publisher's
Web site provides
this information. A
on their domain name indicates it is hidden behind
a front named “Domain Discreet Privacy Service”
of Jacksonville, Florida. Way to go with the transparency
and standing up in public for what you believe, guys!