A former CIA operative tries to protect his pastor brother’s congregation in an America close to civil war in Nixon’s (The Sea Kings of Rome, 2009) dystopian thriller.
In 2026, the one-time border patrol agent Rick Savage gets wind of a possible civil war in the United States. Some of the Western states have formed the UW (Undivided West) and are planning to secede. But before the U.S. government can send troops to keep them in line, the UW has developed a plan of its own—it’s going to launch eastward a rocket with the ability to devastate electric grids. Rick has two brothers, Chass and Pastor Isaac, who live in Norwich, a city in an unnamed Eastern state, and he warns them of the UW attack. Isaac wants also to give a heads-up to members of his congregation, and Rick reluctantly agrees to his plan. Meanwhile, the new mayor of Norwich—a senator who may have assassinated the old mayor—initiates martial law and takes control of the city by instilling fear in its people. Rick and the congregation decide to fight the mayor and his army if they come for the church members, something they see as inevitable. Nixon excels at establishing a near-future dystopian America, made believable partly by having present-day issues like the crumbling economy play a role in the plot. Nixon also draws parallels with historical events; the mayor’s expanding power leads Rick to equate their situation to Nazi Germany, while the mayor’s soldiers wear red bands on their arms as Adolf Hitler’s legions did. Rick is a cold, emotionless killer when necessary, but he is softened by having lost his wife and son to murder and by some displays of altruism. The book’s latter half is considerably bloodier but keeps its focus on Norwich, providing no updates on the civil war or even confirming that it’s been officially declared. Rick’s story is sufficiently resolved, but there’s much more to tell, including details about the war and a UW leader named Braxton, who, it seems, rose to power by sheer deceit.
A small but brawny thriller with religious, political and financial themes.