This debut political thriller explores the consequences of ushering in and maintaining a less corrupt U.S. government.
In 2059, the United States is run directly by its voters, without moneyed special interest groups manipulating politics. According to the Second Constitution, a politician’s committing fraud against his or her constituents is a treasonous offense. Enter President Beth Roche-Suarez, who’s about to approve the South American Free Trade Act. Her attorney, Bill Waverly, watches alongside the media as President Roche-Suarez sits with the politicians who wrote the legislature—and vetoes the act. Everyone is aghast, since the fulfillment of SAFTA is what the president campaigned on. As she explains, however, “any benefit would be short-lived and it would eventually cost American jobs.” Waverly believes she’ll be tried for high treason, so he visits his old professor George Comstock for advice. The encounter brings Comstock’s memory back to the Second Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia back in 2037. There, he argued to reframe the Constitution, but he also went head-to-head against Sebastian Irving, a delegate carrying a metallic blue folio. In the folio was a more malleable version of Comstock’s own treason clause, hinting that the Second Constitution was under siege even during its inception. It may seem that debut author McMahon is striking an implausible note early on by telling readers his world of 2059 values life—the president’s, no less—so little. It’s actually a brilliant tactic, which Comstock himself uses in the classroom; the plot is like a “tool to incite passion, to test his students’ understanding of the founding principles of the Constitution”—that is, to get students (i.e., readers) thinking about why America’s greatness has tarnished. Casual thriller readers may flinch at being so handled, but McMahon’ narrative nevertheless zips along, full of clever axioms: e.g., “Knowing what people hated was much more powerful than knowing what they wanted.” Lively flashbacks and fiery personalities make this more than just a memorable exercise in ethics.
A political thriller for readers on both sides of the aisle.