In this debut farce, the U.S. president makes it his personal mission to take out his enemies in Iran and North Korea.
President Donald Trump’s post-golf good mood is quashed when he catches a news report of Ayatollah Sid insulting his mother. He gathers his “team”—Jared, Mike, and Don-Don—and takes Air Force One to Tehran. Tracking down Sid necessitates riding camels through the desert and stopping off at a hostel called Grandma’s House. But following a harrowing shootout, Trump opts for seeking help from private detective Shirley Holmes at 221B Bahka Street. Their collaboration a success, a victorious president then directs the team, including Shirley, to his next target: North Korean leader Yung Cur-Mud-Geon. They’re once again caught up in ludicrous but undeniably dangerous circumstances, but they make it home with nearly everyone intact. Unluckily, Trump faces betrayal back at the White House, where it seems someone is trying to oust him from the Oval Office. He’s suddenly up against an impeachment trial, where there’s fairly damning evidence of his illicit deeds. Trump has already identified the traitor, and with his presidency now at risk, he has revenge on the mind—and the audacity to mete it out. Roche’s goofy novella is rife with absurdity. Much of it is genuinely funny, like a rather odd jumble of movie references, from Casablanca to Weekend at Bernie’s. The satire is generally broad but hard-hitting, especially the president’s sexual antics (Mike braves Trump’s wandering hands at a Holiday Inn). It’s likewise telling that the smartest character in the book is a woman, Shirley, who, in an intriguing turn, is surprisingly vicious. The bare-bones prose suits the quick tempo but occasionally shortchanges the story; more specifics, for example, on the six guns Trump is prone to brandishing could have significantly amped the hilarity. At the same time, the author’s stick-figure Trump illustrations that accompany each chapter are mildly amusing but ultimately dispensable.
Though its execution isn’t entirely successful, this slapstick political tale repeatedly hits a bull’s-eye.