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Friday, July 6, 2012

Reading List: The Liberty Intrigue

Grace, Tom. The Liberty Intrigue. Unknown: Dunlap Goddard, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9656040-1-7.
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 outsider, a Yooper 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 contact page on the publisher's Web site provides this information. A WHOIS query 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!

Posted at July 6, 2012 21:54