Part-time cokehead, small-time gambler and sort-of-full-time speechwriter Peter Holmes Dickinson (“of the Main Line Dickinsons”) juggles his women, his money and his ideologically wayward clients.
First among those clients is Donna Hart Lyons, a potential third-party challenger to President Ty “The Guy” Ferguson—a former client of Peter’s—and mother of Peter’s part-time love. But Donna, two parts Ralph Nader and one part Hillary Clinton with a pinch of Barbra Streisand tossed in, must first win the nomination away from right-wing radio talk-show host Ezra Tyne—a secret client of Peter’s. Then Ferguson’s chief of staff hires Peter to write speeches for the president on the side, insisting that Ferguson himself must never know about it. Peter’s latest client, Tim Flaherty, leads the Union of Work-Challenged Employees, which defends the rights of Americans to hate their jobs and do them poorly. (By the way, Flaherty, too, is trying to keep Donna from winning the third-party nomination.) Add the Che Guevara School for Wayward Girls, where Donna hopes to rehabilitate former prostitutes; Ezra’s Raiders, a Hell’s Angels–type gang of Tyne supporters; the “Deli Lama,” Donna’s left-wing icon father; and one jilted female police officer—then stand back and watch the mud start flying inside the Beltway. Gavin, a former Nixon speechwriter who took on pork-barrel politics in his first novel (One Hell of a Candidate, 2003), rehashes tired ideas about people, politics and power, and his novel never reaches above farce.
A skewering of far-left politics that’s best when it sticks to behind-the-scenes machinations in Washington, worst when it dips into ideology.