A former U.S. congressman takes on the gun industry and a big slab of American politics in this entertaining satire.
Israel (The Global War on Morris, 2014) served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2017 with a constituency on Long Island, New York, where part of his second novel takes place. When gun violence threatens the share price of Cogsworth International Arms, chairman and CEO Otis Cogsworth calls in lobbyist Sunny McCarthy to launch a bill requiring every U.S. citizen to carry a gun. The American Freedom from Fear Act allows Israel to reveal not only the grotesquerie in the legislative process, but the frightening ease with which such a measure can get passed, given enough money, political IOU’s, and complicit media. The story toggles between the national circus in Washington and the local politics of the fictional village of Asabogue, tucked among the beach towns of eastern Long Island. Mayor Lois Liebowitz copes with broken streetlights and the occasional demands from the village’s wealthy enclave of Billionaires Bluff, where Cogsworth lives. When she seeks to ban guns in Asabogue, Cogsworth and neighbor Jack Steele, an aging action-film star, cook up an effort to oust her in a recall vote, with the actor running for mayor. A subplot involves a local militant wacko who believes in an “Islamex plot” by which Muslims use the Mexican border to invade the U.S. Israel teases out personal ties between Lois and Sunny—two strong women characters in a largely male cast—and how they may figure in an electoral battle pitting million-dollar budgets and National Rifle Association muscle against a kitchen-table campaign that starts with little more than handmade lawn signs.
Israel recalls Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Buckley in their liberal bents and sense of the perniciously absurd. Will he be gunning for No. 45 in his No. 3?