When I think of Donald Trump in terms of fiction I try to imagine a redemptive arc, Sam Bourne/Jonathan Freedland instead sees plots to assassinate him.
His is the view that probably strikes the biggest chord with the public, particularly The Guardian reading part of it.
Okay, to be fair, the President is never actually named here. But it’s so obviously the current Commander in Chief. Capricious, prone to terrifying rages and capable of eight terrible acts before breakfast. He is the bogeyman to good liberals and then some.
It’s an efficient thriller, with smart twists and turns and a conclusion that might be a little too neat, but which works effectively enough. Strangely though, for a book which comes from a good liberal pedigree (Freedland writes smart, entertaining columns for The Guardian) is how dull those characters on the heroic, good, decent side of the debate are. Maggie Costello, our heroine, is a punchy figure, but beyond her there’s blandness on top of blandness. That’s thrown into particular contrast by the book’s Steve Bannon figure, who Freedland clearly adores writing for. Having the chance to pile up insults from the other side of the debate, with sexist, racist and goading rants about ‘libtards’, you can feel Freedland just letting loose and really enjoying himself with this wildly over the top, demonic figure.
The result is s strangely unbalanced book where the bad guys are far more interesting than the good, and you can feel the author’s interest being truly, truly engaged when he has to write dialogue for them.
Obviously this Presidency is bad, but – in this version as least – until the good guys start finding better tunes, they are always going to be second best.
Fancy a free F.R. Jameson short story? There’s one available here.