FICTION

The Washington Decree

Dutton. Aug. 2018. 592p. tr. from Danish by Steve Schein. ISBN 9781524742522. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781524742546. THRILLER
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OrangeReviewStarWritten in 2006, Adler-Olsen's ("Department of Q" series) prescient stand-alone thriller depicts the fall of democracy when the U.S. government is dominated by personal agendas and abuse of power. A public relations stunt for Democratic senator Bruce Jansen brings an unlikely group together; 16 years later, after Jansen is elected president, they reconnect to protect America from dictatorship. In the wake of his pregnant wife's assassination on election night, Jansen is determined to end gun violence. Using presidential executive orders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's authority, Jansen and his loyal cabinet create a police state in which the Constitution is suspended and the Bill of Rights is invalidated. Congress is shut down. Undocumented immigrants are deported, borders are closed, and the press is censored. Opponents disappear. White House employee Dorothy "Doggie" Rogers and press secretary Wesley Barefoot must work with their old friends from the PR campaign—Sheriff T. Perkins, charismatic Rosalie Lee, and NBC journalist John Bugatti—to convince Americans that the new order is the product of a treacherous coup.
VERDICT As with Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, this nightmarish portrait reveals how easily democracy can slide into autocracy, scaring the apathy out of readers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/18.]

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