In Moore’s debut novel, the heir to 700 years of accumulated wealth devises a plan to rescue the United States’ economy.
Duncan Stuart-Bruce, of half-Scottish ancestry but born in America, is heir to an enormous fortune, a centuries-old legacy of riches dating back to Robert the Bruce. The family has “been involved in almost every major industrial, political, economic, scientific, or intellectual advancement during the last 500 years,” owning land, oil wells, diamond mines and much more. The first part of this novel introduces readers to Duncan’s father, Ian, describing his whirlwind courtship of and short-lived marriage to Liddy, who dies of cancer when Duncan is 5. The boy grows up as the child of privilege, pleasure and duty, hobnobbing with luminaries in entertainment and government. Duncan’s own marriage is cut brutally short (perhaps as part of the “Bruce curse”), and he concentrates on his business affairs. But one day, he catches sight of the U.S. national debt clock and realizes he “can pay off the national debt for the United States of America and have some left over for a rainy day.” And in return, all he’d ask is to become president. A character acknowledges that Duncan’s plan could cause “confusion” but is also “a lifelong dream come true” for the country. That’s arguable, to say the least, as are several other contentions. Much of this book does read like someone’s wish-fulfillment fantasy, with idealized beautiful women, exotic vacations, private airplanes and worshipful encounters with the powerful—yet no woman, destination, possession or politician holds as much allure for Moore as the idea of paying off the national debt. The prose includes anachronisms; for example, a 1940s woman’s dress is said to be a size 4, a size that didn’t exist at the time. Details can be overly specific: “The plane was going to be in Wickenburg at 9:00 and they needed to get to Sedona before 10:00 to get the dress. They planned to be in Laughlin by 1:00 or 2:00.” In other places, as when describing complicated undersea salvage work, Moore shows good research and descriptive ability. The book leaves off with Duncan’s dream yet to be realized; following his what-if scenario through might have been a better strategy.
An implausible but focused power fantasy.